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NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, Fox and others sued Aereo, a subscription service that went live in New York last year and is expanding to other markets. The suit claimed that the upstart, backed by media mogul Barry Diller, had failed to acquire licenses from the networks who deliver their broadcasts over the air.
Aereo’s technological setup, the court found, basically allows it to do what cable companies could not: retransmit broadcast airwaves without paying licensing fees. In short, the Aereo service is as legal as somebody putting an antenna on top of their house to capture broadcast signals. The court said Aereo “provides the functionality of three devices: a standard TV antenna, a DVR, and a Slingbox” device.