Streaming television service FilmOn
X suffered another setback in court this week, when an appellate panel said it won't rule on the company's request to lift an injunction against it until after the Supreme Court decides whether Aereo
The order, issued on Thursday by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, leaves FilmOn X unable to stream TV shows in the U.S., except for three states: New York, Vermont and
Connecticut. The three-judge panel that stayed FilmOn X's appeal didn't state a reason for its decision.
The move came around one week after a coalition of broadcast networks that initially
sued FilmOn X sought an “emergency” stay of the company's appeal. The networks argued that it made sense to wait and see how the Supreme Court ruled in the Aereo matter, given that any
decision regarding Aereo would also affect the legality of FilmOn X.
Like Aereo, FilmOn X allows people to stream over-the-air TV shows to devices like iPhones and iPads. TV are suing both
companies for allegedly infringing copyright by retransmitting shows without a license. The broadcasters contend that Aereo and FilmOn X need licenses in order to “publicly” perform the TV
But the startups argue they are legal due to their design. Both say they have installed thousands of miniscule antennas that pick up over-the-air broadcast signals and then stream
the programs to users. Aereo and FilmOn X say their streams are “private” performances, because they are made on an antenna-to-user basis.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary
Collyer in Washington, D.C. sided with the broadcasters and entered a preliminary order preventing FilmOn X from streaming TV shows while the lawsuit is pending. FilmOn X is appealing that ban to the
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Unlike FilmOn X, Aereo has so far prevailed in lawsuits brought by broadcasters. Last year, an appellate court in New York refused to ban Aereo from
operating, ruling that its streams are private performances. A federal judge in Boston likewise rejected a request to prohibit the company from operating in New England.
Last week, the
Supreme Court said it would consider the broadcasters' appeal of the New York court's decision. Observers expect the Supreme Court to issue an opinion by June.
FilmOn X unsuccessfully
argued that the appeals court shouldn't wait for that decision to consider
lifting Collyer's order. The company said the injunction issued by Collyer prevents it from competing with Aereo,
resulting in lost market share.
But some observers expected all pending battles concerning Aereo and FilmOn X to be put on hold until after the Supreme Court issues a decision. Elsewhere
in the country, Aereo and the broadcasters have agreed to delay their legal battles pending a Supreme Court ruling.