An Unexpected Success: FilmOn Wins Argument Aereo Could Not - The UpStream

An Unexpected Success: FilmOn Wins Argument Aereo Could Not

posted Sunday Jul 19, 2015 by Scott Ertz

An Unexpected Success: FilmOn Wins Argument Aereo Could Not

If you have never heard of the company FilmOn, it's okay. Until the Supreme court put an end to rival Aereo, the company was certainly overshadowed. The service provides live Internet-based viewing of television stations of varying types, locations and qualities; some for free and some for a fee. If this story sounds familiar, you're correct: it is a very similar business model to what Aereo provided.

While Aereo may have set an unfortunate precedent in the highest court in the land, it does not seem to have affected anything. FilmOn was sued in a US District Court by the same group that sued Aereo: the big 4 broadcast networks. Their claims were very similar to the complains against Aereo, and entirely expected, claiming copyright infringement by the company. This comes from the fact that the networks own the distribution rights to the content and see no royalties from the company on distribution.

When Aereo lost their case, they asked for a different option: to be considered a cable company so they could license the content from the broadcasters for a fee. The 2nd Circuit Court that heard that argument denied the request, which ultimately closed the doors for Aereo for good. FilmOn, however, seems to have won the exact same argument in a different court. US District Judge George Wu has granted the company the right to negotiate as a cable company, and acknowledges that this decision is in violation of precedent.

As a way of appeasing the broadcasters, he also allowed them to immediately escalate the case to the 9th Circuit, which they are likely to follow through on. This decision, if allowed to stand, could potentially open the door for the Aereo brand to resurface, likely under the new owners: TiVo. It could also open up the doors for other competitors to enter this clearly lucrative market, which could help drive prices down. Of course, precedent has clearly not had an effect on the matter previously, so there is no telling where this could all go.

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