FilmOn X LLC was ordered to cease service by a federal judge who said Fox Television Stations Inc. and other broadcasters are likely to succeed in their lawsuit claiming the online streaming company violates their copyrights.
“This court concludes that the Copyright Act forbids FilmOn X from retransmitting plaintiff’s copyrighted programs over the Internet,” U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington wrote, granting the broadcasters request for a preliminary injunction.
Collyer’s ruling yesterday adds to a legal landscape of mixed rulings for FilmOn X and other streaming services, including rival Aereo Inc., backed by Barry Diller.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled against an injunction that would have shut Aereo, which has a technology similar to FilmOn X’s.
Lawyers for FilmOn X last month urged a San Francisco-based federal appeals court to heed the New York ruling and overturn a lower-court decision in California that granted broadcasters’ bid to shut down the service in the state.
If the California appeals panel upholds the lower-court ruling, it will create a legal split between the two federal circuits, which could lead to a Supreme Court review.
In her ruling, Collyer acknowledged the competing decisions and said she found the California district judge’s opinion more compelling.
Ryan Baker, an attorney for FilmOn X, said the company will appeal Collyer’s ruling.
“I think Judge Collyer didn’t do sufficient analysis,” Baker said yesterday in a phone interview. “I’m surprised she ruled before even having a hearing.”
FilmOn X, based in Beverly Hills and founded by Alki David, argued that it isn’t infringing copyrights by capturing broadcasters’ over-the-air signals with its small remotely located antennas and retransmitting the programming to its customers.
Aereo and FilmOn X have both contended that because each of their transmissions come from a single antenna to a single subscriber, it’s a private performance under copyright law.
FilmOn X’s retransmissions occur “without the consent of the affected broadcast stations or copyright owner” and are thus illegal, according to Fox’s Washington complaint, which was joined by other broadcasters including ABC, CBS and NBC.
The Washington case is Fox Television Stations Inc. v. FilmOn X, 13-cv-00758, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).