FilmOn Windows on the world

Continuing its push to serve consumers “TV where they want it, how they want it,” FilmOn Networks has notified Judge Charles P. Kocoras of the U.S. District Court in Chicago that it intends to file a motion for leave to amend its original complaint against  Window to the World Communications, Inc.

WTTW, which operates Chicago’s PBS station on Channel 11, had filed a cease and desist order accusing FilmOn of copyright infringement even thought it was operating under the same decision by the Second Circuit that allowed Aereo to operate using remote antennas.

The two parties were ordered to file this report setting forth their views on how the case should proceed in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in ABC  v. Aereo within 14 days of that decision, which vacated and remanded the Second Circuits ruling.

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FilmOn’s move adds to the growing movement, supported by the Supreme Court in its ruling on Aereo, that streaming TV companies like Aereo and FilmOn Networks should be treated like cable companies, guided by the Copyright Act of 1976. Since the Court recognized the “overwhelming similarity” to cable companies, FilmOn qualifies for compulsory license under Section 111–allowing it to stream broadcast signals without negotiating directly with the Networks so long as it pays royalties to the Copyright Office.

The previous action had been stayed by the court pending the resolution of Aereo before SCOTUS. The intention of that stay was to let the ruling on Aereo be reflected in the decision in Chicago. WTTW’s lawyers argued in the joint report that the Supreme Court’s ruling requires dismissal of this case. Their statements ignore the possibility of compulsory license.

This rapidly moving story has caught the attention of a wide range of media and analysts and it moved influential BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield to call FilmOn’s business plan, “Financial Nirvana” in the Wall Street Journal. Read more media coverage here.

The argument for compulsory license is not new. Alki David, the CEO of FilmOn, says, “I have always said this was an acceptable alternative path: consumers get the TV they want on their own terms, advertisers get a vast new segment of viewers hey have no access to now, and the Networks win too by getting the fees I have always been willing to pay.”

Indeed in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court in April by FilmOn on Aereo’s behalf, it was suggested as an alternative route should the court decide against the remote antenna business. “FilmOn is willing and able to comply with all the procedural requirements of the compulsory licensing program,” the brief stated clearly. “Including the payment of royalty fees to the Copyright Office.” Read the full amicus here.

Find out more about FilmOn here.

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