Court Restrains FilmOn

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FilmOn.com has decided to temporarily stop streaming TV station signals in light of the temporary restraining order  a New York federal judge was issuing Tuesday morning.

That TRO is while the court decides the larger issue of enjoining the service longer-term, while it decides the larger question of its legality.

"We respect the Court's decision in this matter and have temporarily ceased retransmission of free network television on FilmOn," the company said in a statement. "In the few weeks FilmOn provided free access to basic television on consumers' mobile devices [since Sept 27], it received more than 30 million individual users. We also garnered dozens of positive reviews about our free service's quality and ease of use. We have, in essence, shown full proof of concept of the FilmOn delivery system--proving that millions of viewers will watch our superior television service online, all with commercials, adding millions of extra impressions that enhance network's value to its viewers and advertisers."

FilmOn did not seek retransmission-consent deals with the stations it streamed, leading the big four networks and their studios to sue for copyright infringement and an injunction.

FilmOn said it plans to get those stations back online sometime in the future in a "legitimate and collaborative business model."

According to FilmOn lawyer Scott Zarin, the judge was not convinced of its argument that it was exempt from copyright infringement as a cable system, but that it will have more opportunities to make the case in a hearing on the preliminary injunction.

FilmOn argues that, like cable systems, it has a retransmission right under copyright law, but unlike a cable system, it is not subject to retrans rules because the FCC has not officially weighed in on whether an online streaming site is a cable system subject to those rules.

Broadcasters have also sued ivi TV, a streaming site that is similarly carrying TV station signals online without having paid retrans fees.

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