after the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo infringed copyright by streaming television shows on the Internet, the rival company FilmOn announced that it had developed a new type of streaming service
that would avoid legal pitfalls.
FilmOn vowed to roll out its new so-called “teleporter” service to 18 cities, and allegedly went ahead with the launch late last month in New
York. But broadcasters say the teleporter is no more legitimate than any other service that streams television shows without licenses.
Now, a coalition of TV broadcasters is urging U.S.
District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in the Southern District of New York to hold FilmOn in contempt of court for launching the newest iteration of its streaming service.
argue that the service violates Buchwald's 2012 order against FilmOn, which prohibits the company from infringing copyright by streaming television shows online.
FilmOn counters that it's
not in contempt for several reasons. The company says that it disabled the “teleporter” service as soon as it learned of the broadcasters' opposition.
FilmOn, backed by
billionaire Alki David, also argues that the scope of the 2012 injunction is now ambiguous, due to recent shifts in the legal and technological landscape. “The injunction’s clarity has
been materially undermined by the combination of new technologies ... and post-injunction developments in the state of the law, including the Supreme Court’s recent Aereo decision,” FilmOn
The broadcasters counter that FilmOn's decision to stop offering its “teleporter” service after learning of a complaint doesn't protect the company from contempt
sanctions. “It simply shows FilmOn was caught and is trying to avoid the consequences of its contempt,” the broadcasters say in papers filed late last week.
In 2012, when
Buchwald issued the original injunction against FilmOn, the company used a different technology from Aereo, which relied on thousands of dime-size antennas to capture and stream shows. But after Aereo
launched, the company rolled out FilmOn X -- a streaming service that, like Aereo, relied on dime-sized remote antennas to stream shows to users' devices.
It's not yet clear how the
technology underlying the teleporter service differs from that used in earlier versions of the company's services. Last month, FilmOn described the teleporter in a statement as “a remote
desktop” that allows consumers to “virtually, and legally, transport themselves to distant cities in order to watch local television online.”
Buchwald has scheduled the matter
for a hearing on Tuesday morning.