FilmOn has filed a brief with the Supreme Court, asking it to side with rival streaming service Aereo in that company’s upcoming legal battle with American TV broadcasters. Both Aereo and FilmOn offer similar services, and FilmOn expect the Supreme Court’s decision regarding to Aereo to affect their own legal wranglings, making them understandably keen to have their views be heard in the case.

FilmOn has now filed a friend-of-the-court brief, in which it argues, “Contrary to the networks’ contention, Aereo and FilmOn are not stealing copyrighted content, but merely providing a convenient method to access content freely available on the public airwaves.”

The “networks’ contention” is that streaming services like FilmOn and Aereo are infringing copyright by making public performances of TV content. FilmOn instead argues that its technology instead facilitates private performances, a way to remotely access an antenna and DVR, as someone might in their own home: “Using remote antennas and DVRs stored at FilmOn’s facilities, individual users choose to record their own unique copies of their favorite program, which they can privately perform, just as they would otherwise do with a traditional DVR.”

The distinction is important, as public performances require licenses, while private ones do not. FilmOn allege that previous courts “improperly aggregated numerous private transmissions made by a host of different users to find a public performance by FilmOn.”

Both companies have faced legal action from broadcasters before. Aereo has won in New York and Boston, but lost in Utah, while FilmOn has lost in California and Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court will begin proceedings on April 22, hearing the broadcasters’ appeal of a pro-Aereo ruling from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. FilmOn had previously asked to participate as a party in that case, due to the potential impact on its own operations, which the Supreme Court refused, but they are still allowed to file a friend-of-the-court brief.

FilmOn CEO and founder Alki David has previously said this on the matter: “Less than 3% of our business in the US relies on Network Television access. However, the right of the innovator and right for the public access to the television spectrum entrusted to the major networks, entitles us to offer this technology to consumers. Does a TV set manufacturer get sued for having free to air TV available in its tuner technology? Our commitment to this fight against the Networks is based on principle rather than anything else.”

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