FilmOn X blocked again, muddying Aereo's legal waters

Broadcasters won a victory in their move to shut down online video services that carry their stations' signals without permission on Thursday. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ordered FilmOn X, formerly known as Aereokiller and BarryDriller, to stop streaming local TV stations.

In granting a preliminary injunction sought by broadcasters, the judge handed them their second win against the upstart video service, which launched seemingly as a gag after the Barry Diller-backed Aereo began operating. Broadcasters' legal efforts have been less successful against Aereo itself, though several challenges remain pending.

Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that copyright law bars FilmOn X from carrying local TV station signals online. FilmOn X appealed a similar injunction issued in California earlier this year, and a decision on that appeal could come any day. Like Aereo, FilmOn X has argued the courts should let it continue operating because it leases individual antennas and DVRs to subscribers, who make their own private recordings and transmissions of the broadcasters' content.

That argument has so far carried the day for Aereo. In refusing to grant TV broadcasters an injunction request against Aereo, a federal appeals court in New York found the same precedent that lets cable operators offer remote-storage DVRs may also let Aereo operate. Litigation over Aereo's legality is still playing out in New York and other venues.

The patchwork of legal rulings around the country on related cases could increase the chances of an eventual Supreme Court review. To reach that step, a party would first have to ask the high court to reconsider a U.S. Circuit Court's decision. Fox said it might do just that after the 2nd Circuit Appeals Court didn't block Aereo's service.

For now, FilmOn X must comply with the injunction, but founder Alki David told Variety the ruling was just a temporary setback. "I'm on my yacht in (the) Mediterranean at the moment so they can kiss my..." he told the publication.

For more:
Variety had this report
- Bloomberg had this report

Commentary: Aereo, amid challenges, looks ahead to possibilities

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