Aereo hires Cablevision attorney for copyright battle with broadcasters

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Aereo has hired David Hosp, a copyright attorney who helped Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) win its landmark network DVR lawsuit, to wage a court fight with broadcasters attempting to shut down its platform that delivers the feeds from TV stations to viewers using mobile devices, connected TVs and computers.

Aereo plans to launch its broadcast TV platform on Wednesday, offering New Yorkers a free 30-day trial on a product that offers access to 20 local TV stations, including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox stations. The broadcasters filed a lawsuit against Aereo that alleges copyright infringement on March 1.

In a countersuit filed by Aereo on Monday, Hosp, an attorney at Boston-based law firm Goodwin Procter, cites the Cablevision network DVR case. Aereo argues that the copyright laws that have allowed Cablevision to use its Optimum DVR to distribute broadcast content to viewers from network-based servers should allow it to deliver broadcast TV content via the Web that it receives through its arrays of dime-sized antennas.

"Companies that merely supply remote technological means that customers can use to make personal recordings and play them back are not liable for copyright infringement as to the recorded programming content," Hosp writes in the Aereo response and countersuit.

Several TV networks, movie studios and the Motion Picture Association of America attempted to stop Cablevision from launching its RS-DVR in 2010. Cablevision got approval to launch the product after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the case in 2009.

Broadcasters have also hired top copyright attorneys. Steven Fabrizio, an attorney who helped shut down Napster's file-sharing platform in 2001, is representing Fox, Univision and PBS in their lawsuit against Aereo.

In its response, Aereo notes that it held meetings with "a number of plaintiffs" before launching the beta trial for its product. The company has asked U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for a declaratory judgment that it does not infringe on any of the copyrights claimed by the broadcasters.

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