FilmOn.com, which last week made its U.S. debut, promising to deliver HD content from broadcasters across Internet connections for $10 a month, has--predictably--drawn the attention of the broadcast networks from which it gets its content.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York Friday, FilmOn.com was named as the defendant in a suit alleging copyright infringement, just as Seattle-based startup ivi TV, which currently is offering broadcast TV fare over the Internet for $4.99 a month, had been the week before.
The suit was brought by a plethora of broadcasters, including CBS, NBC, Universal Network Television, KNBC-TV, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Television Stations, ABC Holding Company, and Disney Enterprises.
FilmOn launched its service originally in the U.K. in 2009. It said it had planned a month-long trial in the U.S. with content from 30 TV channels and satellite channels including CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, as well as Russia Today, BBC News, RAI Sports, Dubai Sports and TVE Spain. The company says it also has deals with Los Angeles TV stations KTLA and KCAL. The service also offers VOD packages that can bump costs to nearly $25 a month.
Earlier last month, ivi TV, which describes itself as a cable TV operator that delivers content over the Internet, filed suit in federal court in Seattle in an attempt to stop broadcasters from bringing suit against it. But a week later, a lineup of broadcasting heavyweights filed a copyright infringement suit in New York.
Ivi TV CEO and founder Todd Weaver called the suit a "predictable move by big media" that's trying to "stifle innovation and technology," saying ivi TV, like other cable TV providers, pays licensing fees for the content.
"This is not about copyright, this is about competition," Weaver said. "In an initial knee-jerk reaction, broadcasters fought against cable companies, then joined them. Broadcasters then fought against satellite companies, then joined them. Today, it is our turn. ivi TV pays broadcasters and we increase their viewership. Broadcasters charge more in advertising in return due to the increase in viewers."
In the case of FilmOn.com, it's not clear whether the company is taking a similar tack and claiming cable operator status.
FilmOn was founded by U.K. financier Alki David, described in FilmOn promotional materials as the U.K.'s 45th richest man, a serial Internet entrepreneur and a shipping magnate. He also has, the company said, starred in several films and television series.
"Our platform is designed to be easily customized for broadcasters and advertisers who wish to get into the online broadcast business quickly and with minimal expense. FilmOn is currently in negotiations with all major cable providers and plans to provide complete syndicated cable television services throughout the U.S. in 2011," said David.
- Check out the lawsuit summary here
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