Major broadcasters ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC have won a court battle against FilmOn X over the company’s right to stream broadcast channels.
According to Variety, FilmOn X sought an exception based on the Copyright Act to acquire a compulsory license to redistribute broadcast television. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals saw it differently and reinstated a copyright claim brought about by the major broadcasters over the IP-based delivery of broadcast content.
Because the Copyright Office said FilmOn X is not eligible for redistribution since it is not a cable system, the court deferred to the office because its “views are persuasive, and because they are reasonable.”
FilmOn X attorney Ryan Baker of Baker Marquart said in a statement that FilmOn X is “disappointed with the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, which allows the Copyright Office to further its narrow agenda rather than give meaning to the plain language of the relevant statute. FilmOn X continues to believe Congress intended that cable companies could utilize modern communications channels to deliver broadcast television to the American public.”
Baker added that similar issues are currently before the Seventh and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals and that FilmOn X “remains hopeful that those appellate courts will apply the statute as written and shun any attempt to impose extratextual limitations on the compulsory license.”
The 9th Circuit Court’s decision against FilmOn X is the latest roadblock for the streaming company in its battle to redistribute broadcast channels. In 2015, a D.C. Circuit Court judge ruled that FilmOn X couldn’t have a retransmission license, despite an L.A. Circuit judge siding with FilmOn X a few months earlier. U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer partially side with the plaintiffs led by Fox Television Stations but did not award the plaintiffs a summary judgment over a claim of copyright infringement.
At the time, FilmOn X CEO Alki David said, "Our arguments over this are really irrelevant. The loser in this is the public. … It's their airwaves. The broadcasters have built their businesses off the back of these airwaves that belong to the public and now the public have been denied."