FilmOn streaming TV site temporarily shut down by court
FilmOn CEO Alki David said Tuesday he is in negotiations with television network affiliates to bring live streaming television back to its platform after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against the Web site. But the live streaming Web site said it also plans to defend its interpretation of copyright law that allows it to retransmit broadcast signals.
The judge for the U.S. District Court of the Southern New York issued the temporary restraining order Monday afternoon after all four major networks -- Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC -- filed suit against the company for streaming the signals of television stations over the Internet without permission of the stations or the networks.
The temporary restraining order was put into effect as the court deliberates on a final decision on the networks' plea for the Web site to be shut down. The controversy surrounding FilmOn highlights a scramble by broadcasters to control the distribution of their content as a plethora of new distributors such as Google TV, Apple TV, and streaming sites try to bring shows and film to Internet users.
"We respect the Court's decision in this matter and have temporarily ceased retransmission of free network television on FilmOn," said David, who is described in FilmOn's Web site as a British shipping magnate and movie and film star.
He said the free site, which retransmitted signals of local broadcast stations without paying those stations or networks fees normally paid by television service providers, attracted 30 million users in just a few weeks after going live in the U.S.
"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 said.
The company, and competitor iviTV, say their practice is legal. They point to a copyright exemption for cable television operators that allows them to retransmit broadcast signals by paying a copyright royalty fee.
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.
"FilmOn will be drafting papers in opposition to the Networks' motion for a preliminary injunction in the coming weeks, with which it expects to submit to the court the opinion of an expert on FilmOn's technology in order to demonstrate that FilmOn is indeed a cable system," the firm said in a release. "If FilmOn successfully opposes the Networks' motion for a preliminary injunction, the court's Temporary Restraining Order -- which by law can only remain in effect for a short duration -- will be dissolved."
| November 23, 2010; 8:53 AM ET
Categories: Apple, FCC, Google, Net Neutrality, Online Video
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