Thursday, November 25, 2010

Goodbye Free TV Broadcasting for the iPad - For now?

FilmOn had offered a free TV viewing service that works on conventional PCs (with a downloaded free app), as well as on mobile devices like Apple’s iPad and iPhone (right from Safari's browser).  The service offered viewing of all network channels from LA California.  In addition to the networked channels, it offered independent broadcasts as well, including porn stations.  Filmon offers paid packages that offer a variety of programming options.  It would be foolish to subscribe to them before  the legal issues are are stamped out.  They legal actions have only just begun.

A federal court has put the kibosh on Filmon broadcasting the programming from TV's largest networks for free, without their permission.  The federal judge in New York has issued a temporary restraining order against, which has riled up the U.S. TV industry for a couple of months. The four broadcast networks–News Corp.’s Fox, GE’s NBC, Disney’s ABC and CBS–had asked for the order on Nov. 9.

FilmOn argues that the U.S. copyright act allows it to redistribute broadcast programming; Ivi Inc., a Seattle-based company that offers a similar service, makes the same argument.


Los Angeles, CA – November 23, 2010 – Inc. CEO and Chairman, Alki David today issued the following statement regarding the ruling made by the New York Southern District Court, which issued a temporary restraining order, in effect pending the court’s decision on if it will issue a preliminary injunction.

“We respect the Court’s decision in this matter and have temporarily ceased retransmission of free network television on FilmOn. In the few weeks FilmOn provided free access to basic television on consumers’ mobile devices, it received more than 30 million individual users. We also garnered dozens of positive reviews about our free service’s quality and ease of use. We have, in essence, shown full proof of concept of the FilmOn delivery system–proving that millions of viewers will watch our superior television service online, all with commercials, adding millions of extra impressions that enhance network’s value to its viewers and advertisers.”

“FilmOn has succeeded in securing partnerships with several independent broadcast channels to be able to keep a compelling live offering online in the near future. Coupled with our own library of content and that of our partners, FilmOn will remain open for business. “

We do expect to bring the major networks back to our lineup in the near future, all in a legitimate and collaborative business model. We have already begun very positive discussions with TV networks affiliates and other content owners to provide our delivery service and measurement analytics to stream their live content online.

Scott Zarin, Zarin & Associates P.C., legal counsel for FilmOn added:

“In addressing FilmOn’s argument that it is exempt from copyright infringement liability as a cable system, the court indicated that it was not convinced–on the facts currently known to it–which this is the case. Although the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order, it is providing FilmOn with an opportunity to elaborate upon its ‘cable system’ argument more thoroughly in a hearing on the Networks’ request for a preliminary injunction.

“FilmOn will be drafting papers in opposition to the Networks’ motion for a preliminary injunction in the coming weeks, with which it expects to submit to the court the opinion of an expert on FilmOn’s technology in order to demonstrate that FilmOn is indeed a cable system. If FilmOn successfully opposes the Networks’ motion for a preliminary injunction, the court’s Temporary Restraining Order–which by law can only remain in effect for a short duration–will be dissolved.”

I used the website to view NFL football games that were not viewable in my area, complete with commercials. I hope that Filmon is able to improve upon the system to be able to determine the viewer's region and display locally relevant commercials. Whether the networks like it or not, the viewing habits of today's viewers are extremely different and these viewers will demand more flexibility to view this content the same way they have transformed the music industry. Those who adapt will prosper, those that don't will suffer. Since the ruling, Filmon has replaced the missing network channels with some movie channels and additional porn channels, including Playboy. They have just upped the battle and will most likely be heading from Playboy's lawyers very soon.

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