On Thursday, a US District judge in Washington DC issued a preliminary injunction against our old friends at FilmOn, the TV streaming service. Several major networks had filed suit against FilmOn, claiming the service was rebroadcasting their stations’ signals without permission. In her opinion, Rosemary Collyer wrote that the networks are “likely to succeed on their claim that FilmOn X violates Plaintiffs’ exclusive public performance rights in their copyrighted works.”
According to the New York Times and others, Fox said in a statement that the injunction “would apply across the country, with the exception of New York, Connecticut and Vermont, where the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has upheld Aereo’s business model”. I don’t think that FilmOn founder Alki David agrees.
David told the Hollywood Reporter, “We are still in many other cities across the USA. We are opening Philadelphia on Monday. We will win DC back on appeal.” Sure enough, as I write this, FilmOn is still streaming local OTA stations from New York City, Denver, and probably other cities that are harder for me to check. Just not Washington.
(As an aside, you really need to read David’s response in Variety. It starts with “The judge is clearly in (the broadcasters’) pockets,” and continues with the word “hairy” and a part of the anatomy.)
And even if FilmOn ever gets completely shut out of streaming US OTA channels, (it’s happened before), it could still continue with its zillion other channels. David told Deadline.com that “We will continue without the Networks and appeal. We will win in the appeal.” What will probably happen is that the whole business question of whether a company can stream the OTA signal from an individual antenna to a single user will be settled by the Supreme Court, and that won’t happen for a couple of years according to a great analysis on GigaOM.
The other OTA streaming service, Aereo, has been very successful in the courts at blocking injunctions. For FilmOn to succeed in streaming US OTA, I think its next step should be to hire Aereo’s lawyers.