The PBS station Window to the
World Communications is asking a federal judge in Illinois to ban the “repeat infringer” FilmOn X from streaming the broadcaster's TV shows.
FilmOn X has a “long history
of violating copyright owners’ exclusive rights,” the broadcaster says in in new court papers alleging copyright infringement. Window to the World, based in Chicago, brings the claim in
response to FilmOn X's request for a declaratory judgment that it doesn't infringe copyright.
FilmOn X filed a preemptive lawsuit last November, arguing that its streaming TV service is
merely “a modern high-tech version of the traditional TV antennas.” The star-tup did so after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Window to the World.
Like its Barry
Diller-backed rival Aereo, FilmOn Xallows users to stream over-the-air TV shows to iPhones, iPads and other devices. The Web-based companies also let users “record” shows and watch them
Broadcasters are suing both companies for allegedly infringing copyright by publicly performing programs programs without a license. Only copyright holders are allowed to publicly
The companies counter that their services are legal, due to their technology, which relies on thousands of tiny antennas to capture and stream over-the-air broadcasts. The
companies say their streams are “private,” because they are made on an antenna-to-user basis.
So far, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with Aereo, as has a federal
district court judge in
Boston. In both of those actions, courts have rejected broadcasters' requests to prohibit Aereo from operating.
But judges in Washington, D.C. and California
have ruled against FilmOn X and enjoined the company from streaming programs owned by the broadcasters that filed suit. FilmOn X has appealed both of those rulings.
The Supreme Court
recently agreed to hear the broadcasters' appeal of the 2nd Circuit's decision. That court's decision, expected by this June, could resolve questions about whether the services are legal.
Meantime, the litigation in Illinois is continuing before U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kocoras. While he could decide to place the matter on hold pending the Supreme Court decision, neither
company has requested that.
Instead, Windows to the World last week filed a counterclaim accusing FilmOn of infringing copyright.
In its countersuit, the broadcaster emphasizes FilmOn
X's checkered legal history, arguing that it has “repeatedly defied court orders” prohibiting it from streaming TV shows. Last year, FilmOn X was held in contempt of court by U.S. District
Court Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington, D.C., who found that the company ignored her order by streaming TV shows in the Boston area.
Window to the World adds that it will suffer
“great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money,” unless FilmOn X is ordered to stop operating.