US public interest bodies Public Knowledge, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with the help of the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School, have filed an amicus [friend of court] brief in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that OTT platform FilmOn qualifies for the cable statutory licence. This allows qualifying services to carry broadcast programming, provided they are otherwise complying with FCC rules. Public Knowledge rejects the idea that traditional pay-TV should receive special treatment denied to online video services.
According to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge, the law should not give traditional pay-TV services legal advantages that are not available to their online competitors. “FilmOn meets the definition of a ‘cable’ service under copyright law, and it wants to be treated like one. So it should be,” he declared.
“Services like FilmOn can benefit consumers by creating more competition in TV distribution, while creating new opportunities for programmers to reach viewers. The law should not disadvantage them. Just as Public Knowledge has argued that the FCC ought to treat online pay-TV services that offer linear programming the same as traditional cable and satellite TV providers, copyright law ought not to discriminate against online pay-TV services.”