Big Four Sue FilmOn

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The Big Four networks and their associated studios have filed suit against online video streamer FilmOn in a New York District Court, saying its conduct has caused, and is causing them, "irreparable harm."

The effort follows on the heels of many of the same parties -- plus others -- to block streaming site ivi TV from doing essentially the same thing, which is streaming local TV stations signals, as part of an online pay package, without having negotiated retransmission-consent payments with the stations.

The broadcasters and studios say the company does not have the right to stream the stations or the underlying copyrighted content and has asked the court for a declaratory judgment that that is the case, as well as a preliminary injunction against the conduct.

FilmOn has been streaming the stations since Sept. 27, according to that company, and Friday was planning to launch HD versions.

As with their arguments against ivi TV, the plaintiffs allege that the timing of the launch was to coincide with the beginning of the fall season, thereby "misappropriating some of the most important copyrighted content at a critical time of the year."

In an interview with Multichannel News last week, David said that he has not negotiated individual carriage deals with the broadcasters, though for some other content he does have deals.
He argued that his service fits the definition of cable system when it comes to the statutory license to retransmit broadcast signals over the air per U.S. Copyright law, but that it is not a cable system when it comes to the Communications Act requirement to obtain express permission from a station before such retransmission.

He said he saw the site as a business-to-business aid to broadcast and cable programmers, but was not shying away from a fight. "If somebody wants a fight, bring it on," he said.

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