Internet streaming site FilmOn.com says it has shut down its streams of broadcast TV, after a federal judge in New York issued a temporary restraining order that had been requested by all of the major TV networks. FilmOn claims its service is legal, while the networks claim it is pirating their copyright content.
“We respect the Court’s decision in this matter and have temporarily ceased retransmission of free network television on FilmOn. In the few weeks FilmOn provided free access to basic television on consumers’ mobile devices, it received more than 30 million individual users. We also garnered dozens of positive reviews about our free service’s quality and ease of use. We have, in essence, shown full proof of concept of the FilmOn delivery system —p roving that millions of viewers will watch our superior television service online, all with commercials, adding millions of extra impressions that enhance network’s value to its viewers and advertisers,” said a statement from FilmOn CEO Alki David.
“We do expect to bring the major networks back to our lineup in the near future, all in a legitimate and collaborative business model. We have already begun very positive discussions with TV networks affiliates and other content owners to provide our delivery service and measurement analytics to stream their live content online,” he added.
“In addressing FilmOn’s argument that it is exempt from copyright infringement liability as a cable system, the court indicated that it was not convinced – on the facts currently known to it – which this is the case. Although the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order, it is providing FilmOn with an opportunity to elaborate upon its ‘cable system’ argument more thoroughly in a hearing on the Networks’ request for a preliminary injunction,” said Scott Zarin of Zarin & Associates P.C., legal counsel for FilmOn.
Zarin said FilmOn will be submitting to the court the opinion of an expert on FilmOn’s technology in order to demonstrate that FilmOn is indeed a cable system under law and entitled to a statutory license to retransmit broadcast TV signals. If FilmOn succeeds in that effort the temporary restraining order will be dissolved.
Broadcasters also have legal action pending against ivi TV, which operates a similar streaming service. To date there has been no order issued in that litigation.
In a statement sent to RBR-TVBR, ivi insisted that it is different from FilmOn. “ivi TV and FilmOn are not related. FilmOn gave the networks’ content away for free, when Congress mandates that such content must be sold for value. The statutory copyright licensing system does not work unless cable systems have subscribers who pay for the service, because the compulsory licensing fee that cable systems must pay to the US Copyright Office is based on gross subscription revenue. ivi has subscribers who pay; FilmOn did not and it was shut down,” said ivi TV’s Chairman Ron Erickson.
In fact, FilmOn had originally charged for its service, but went “free” after it was sued by the broadcasters.