Broadcasters Score Big Copyright Act Win Over FilmOn X; Appeal Coming

Over four months ago, a U.S. District Court judge in California stunningly ruled that Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS might have to license their shows to FilmOn X. Today, a U.S. District Court judge in the District of Columbia said that Alki David’s video streaming service doesn’t get that programming after all. All of which could see the Supreme Court doing an almost repeat performance of its Aereo hearing of April 2014.

FilmOn logoFilmOn X, LLC is liable for infringing Plaintiffs’ exclusive right of public performance under … the Copyright Act,” said an order Thursday by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer (read it here). Although her ruling itself is sealed for the time being, Collyer’s public order makes it clear that FilmOn X cannot claim a compulsory license to show broadcaster’s programming like cable companies do.

“We’re very pleased with the judge’s ruling,” a spokesman for Fox, which is the lead net on this case, said today. FilmOn X lawyers already have indicated that they intend to appeal as Fox and the other broadcasters are appealing to the 9th Circuit the surprise ruling in FilmOn X’s favor by Judge George Wu on July 16.

After that ruling, billionaire David’s long-battling FilmOn X threw a brief at the D.C. court to be deemed eligible for the Copyright Act’s Section 111 statutory license. Having been in the courts for years over this, FilmOn X is seeking to avoid the crushing fate of the now-shuttered Aereo after the SCOTUS ruled on June 25, 2014, that the Barry Diller-backed service violated the broadcaster’s copyrights when it streamed their transmissions without their permission. All of which means these split appeals could go to the high court eventually.

The FCC could weigh in also as the Commission is considering changes to its regulations that could treat streaming services under the basically same umbrella as cable and satellite providers.

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