After a U.S. judge in Washington found the company likely violated the copyrights of Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC by retransmitting their shows online, she issued a nationwide injunction against FilmOn. And now a different judge has found the company violated a settlement and court order that resolved a copyright case against it. The TV networks say FilmOn breached that 2012 settlement, failing to pay in full what it owed for copyright violation, then continued to show networks’ protected videos. The company has been ordered to pay $1.35 million for refusing to comply with court rulings.
FilmOn, which has said that tax issues kept it from paying more than the quarter-million or so it already has ponied up in connection with this case, has defended itself by asserting that Fox breached the settlement agreement by sending notice of the internet TV service’s claimed copyright violations to businesses (Apple, Google, and Microsoft), all the while knowing that the antenna-based, individualized and on-demand technology used in this net streaming it terms legal. Alas, for FilmOn, the courts haven’t settled this issue and David’s approach only has complicated the legal situation for Aereo, founded by media mogul David Geffen and others.
Consumers, of course, pay considerably less for internet streaming services, which explains the vigor with which the networks and their allies have fought this technology; it also could contribute, analysts say, to the phenomenon of “cord cutting,” “a la carte consumption” or “unbundling,” a potential huge challenge to the existing broadcast business model, in which customers must subscribe to an array of channels, at higher cost and so they receive channels or content they neither watch nor desire.