Advanced Television

Advocacy bodies seek FilmOn Appeal Court rethink

December 16, 2013

By Colin Mann

A group of advocacy bodies have filed amicus (friend of the court) briefs requesting the Federal DC Court of Appeals to reconsider a DC District court decision blocking Internet TV streaming service FilmOn.

The bodies – Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Engine Advocacy – are critical of the reasoning of US District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer, who issued an injunction against FilmOn X earlier in 2013. The bodies are asking that the DC Circuit Court of Appeals explicitly reject Collyer’s rationale, suggesting that Collyer’s reasoning “could create a systematic bias against emerging technologies.” FilmOn has also filed the supporting brief in its appeal of that injunction to the Federal Appeals court.

In Public Knowledge’s brief, it claims: “The court misapplied the preliminary injunction standard, invoking categorical presumptions forbidden by Supreme Court precedent and factual assumptions that, if affirmed, could create a systematic bias against emerging technologies, suppressing investment and vital risk-taking,” suggesting that regardless of the outcome of this case, the Court should “disavow these errors”.

“Courts should hesitate before depriving consumers and the competitive landscape of a new entrant such as FilmOn X,” it argues. “More broadly, injunctions such as this one threaten to chill other potential startups and their investors from entering the market.”

“I think this brief represents the facts,” commented FilmOn founder Alki David. FilmOn contends that its technology only enables people to carry out legal activity, i.e., using antennas to watch over-the-air TV. “The television programming at issue in this lawsuit is freely available over the air,” FilmOn X argues. “Anyone with a digital antenna and DVR within the networks’ broadcast area may privately receive, record, and view their programming.”

“With this brief we’re seeing that the public has taken a strong interest in its right to access free-to-air broadcast signals and benefit from innovation in business and technology that serve public interest,” added David. “It also shows that the ruling is ridiculous and proves that the courts are willfully ignoring the public interest. Most importantly, this brief reminds everyone that FilmOn is not breaking the law. You cannot steal something that is free. Our service delivers free-to-air broadcast channels to consumers’ Internet devices via individually rented remote antenna farms. Consumers have the right to enjoy the free service FilmOn technology provides and for this reason, we have appealed the court’s preliminary injunction.”


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