Television networks have been going after companies like Aereo for transmitting their content across the internet, and now a federal judge has ordered a similar streaming service to shut down its operation for the time being. US District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer granted a preliminary injunction against FilmOn X, a step that had been requested by a collective of companies that includes CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC. The broadcasters filed their initial lawsuit back in May when FilmOn X still used the name Aereokiller, a not-so-subtle reference to the Chet Kanojia-led company that has drawn the ire of entertainment companies since launching last year.
FilmOn TV provides a similar service as Aereo: it uses a series of individual antennas to pull television signals from the air, and then rebroadcasts them out to customers over the internet on a one-to-one basis. Since it isn't duplicating any content and each customer has their own antenna, the company argues it actually doesn't need to pay any licensing fees; it's simply serving as a conduit. It's an argument that proved persuasive when the US Second Circuit Court ruled in favor of Aereo earlier this year, and FilmOn X brought up that very decision when it argued against an injunction.
Judge Collyer wasn't swayed by the Aereo decision
Judge Collyer, however, was persuaded more by the networks' argument that their rights were being violated — an opinion that had already been reached in a previous case between Fox and the online company. (At the time of that decision, FilmOn X was known as BarryDriller — another not-so-subtle jab at Aereo and its backer Barry Diller.) "This Court concludes that the Copyright Act forbids FilmOn X from retransmitting Plaintiffs' copyrighted programs over the Internet," Judge Collyer wrote in her opinion. "Plaintiffs are thus likely to succeed on their claim that FilmOn X violates Plaintiffs' exclusive public performance rights in their copyrighted works."
While the decision is by no means the end of the journey, it's nevertheless a positive development for the broadcast networks who have otherwise been forced to stand by while Aereo has continued to roll out across the United States. As for FilmOn X, the company's CEO Alki David signaled only confidence in a statement to Deadline. "We will continue without the networks and appeal," he stated. "We will win in the appeal."