Advanced Television

Appeal Court setback for FilmOn X

January 27, 2014

By Colin Mann

Internet TV streaming service FilmOn X has received a further setback to its plans to roll out its technology following the decision of an appellate panel that it would not rule on the company’s request to lift an injunction against it until after the Supreme Court decides on the legality of market counterpart Aereo.

The order means that FilmOn X is only able to stream TV shows in three US states: New York, Vermont and Connecticut. The Court failed to state a reason for its decision.

A group of major broadcasters had asked the court to defer its decision until after the Supreme Court rules on Aereo’s legality.

The Emergency Motion asked the Court, on an emergency basis, to hold in abeyance all proceedings in the appeal, pending the decision in which the Supreme Court granted certiorari (re-examination of a lower court action) Friday January 10.

“If the Supreme Court decides that Aereo’s service infringes the petitioners’ copyrights, the same conclusion would be required here, thereby rendering moot any briefs already filed and any argument already held in this action,” said the broadcasters. “Conversely, if Aereo’s service were held not to infringe, any briefs already filed in this appeal would similarly need to be supplemented and the case would likely merit re-argument.”

FilmOn X had opposed the motion, saying that holding the proceedings in abeyance would cause FilmOn X further irreparable harm, preventing it X from offering its services to consumers across the country.

Judge Rosemary Collyer for the US District Court of DC had issued a preliminary injunction against FilmOn X, barring the service from retransmitting programming over the Internet. “This Court concludes that the Copyright Act forbids FilmOn X from retransmitting Plaintiffs’ copyrighted programs over the Internet,” she wrote in her decision. FilmOn X has asked the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to lift that ban.

It now appears likely that all pending cases relating to Aereo and FilmOn X’s legality will be held in abeyance until after the Supreme Court issues its decision.

Mid-December 2013 Aereo filed a brief with the US Supreme Court saying that it would no longer oppose an action brought by the broadcasters which petitioned the Court to overturn a denied injunction regarding their contention that Aereo operates in breach of copyright.

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