News Corp.'s Fox last Friday filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against BarryDriller.com, a website promising to stream live TV over the Internet using the same approach as Aereo, a startup whose backers include media mogul Barry Diller.
BarryDriller.com -- launched by Nigerian-born digital media entrepreneur Alkiviades "Alki" David, who has run afoul of broadcasters before -- is charging $5.95 per month to watch live TV, streamed to computers, smartphones and tablets.
Fox accused BarryDriller.com of illegally retransmitting the signal of its Los Angeles affiliate, KTTV, as well as infringing its trademarks. The suit seeks a permanent injunction shutting down BarryDriller.com as well as unspecified monetary damages.
The launch of BarryDriller.com by David, whose main property is streaming-video site FilmOn, comes after Aereo won a legal victory last month against major broadcasters in a New York federal district court. In that decision, the court declined to issue an injunction shutting down Aereo, citing a prior decision upholding the legality of Cablevision Systems' Remote Storage DVR service.
Asked for comment on the Fox lawsuit, representatives for BarryDriller.com referred to comments David made to Variety. "[N]etworks should be loving us, not hating us," he told the publication. "Whether they like it or not, free TV is meant to be free. BarryDriller/FilmOn is constitutionally entitled to distribute the free-to-air channels."
Aereo said in a statement, "We have no knowledge of Mr. David's business arrangements or his purported ‘technology.' Neither Mr. David nor FilmOn have any association with Aereo. It is unfortunate that they appear determined to try to trade on Aereo and its board members' successes and reputation."
David's FilmOn was sued by major TV broadcasters in 2010 over a $9.95-per-month service that included what it called "premium free-to-air television channels" including those from CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox. In that case, a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the service; FilmOn eventually settled with the networks and agreed to pay $1.6 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to FilmOn, the BarryDriller.com over-the-air antenna service currently is available in four major markets: New York, L.A., Chicago and Minneapolis and will be launching in San Francisco and Dallas in the next two weeks.
A notice on the BarryDriller.com website says that its remote-antenna service will only let users view live television broadcasts, not recorded content. Aereo, by contrast, provides both live TV and DVR recordings, with pricing plans ranging from $1 per day to $80 per year for New York City consumers.
Fox filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in L.A. The case is docket no. CV12-6921. A copy of the complaint is available here.