Nexstar Broad., Inc. v. Time Warner Cable, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, Infringement
  • Date Filed: 05-30-2013
  • Case #: 12-10935
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 10888
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 2359720
  • Full Text Opinion

In television broadcasting, copyright infringement was unlikely to succeed when an operator of a television station did not notify a broadcaster that the operator was exercising its non-duplication rights.

Opinion (Jolly): Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. (“Nexstar”) contended that Time Warner Cable, Inc.’s (“Time Warner”) distant transmissions of Nexstar station signals violated the terms of their Retransmission Consent Agreement (“RCA”). Nexstar filed claims for breach of contract and copyright infringement and moved for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order. The district court denied Nexstar’s motions, finding Nexstar not likely to succeed on the merits, and Nexstar appealed. Nexstar is a Delaware corporation that owns and operates television stations in various markets across the United States. While most stations are affiliated with national networks, Nexstar also offered local programming services, including local news production and sales. Time Warner is a cable television operator that distributes Nexstar’s signals. Nexstar contended the RCA only allowed Time Warner to retransmit Nexstar signals in certain markets, while Time Warner asserted the RCA provided a broad right for it to retransmit Nexstar signals over each of Time Warner’s cable systems, regardless of the cable system’s location. The court examined the language of the RCA, finding that, through the contract’s plain language, it conferred a broad transmission authority, not limiting Time Warner’s authority to only those systems servicing relevant local television markets. Nexstar next argued the district court erred in finding it unlikely to succeed on the merits of its copyright claim. In order to exercise non-duplication rights, television stations must notify each cable television system operator of the non-duplication sought in accordance with the requirements of 47 C.F.R. § 76.92. Nexstar did not argue that it had provided Time Warner with the requisite notice, and thus there is no evidence that Time Warner violated the rules. The district court found that the copyright claim was contingent on finding a breach of the RCA and determined that Nexstar was not likely to succeed on the merits of its breach. Accordingly, the Appellate Court AFFIRMED the orders of the district court.

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