A federal judge today found the Alki David-run free-TV-over-the-Internet company in contempt of court for violating a nearly nationwide ban. Hoping to avoid Judge Rosemary Collyer’s wrath, FilmOn X claimed in late October that it was system error that led to copyrighted programming from Fox, NBC and ABC being played on the service in the Boston area in September. Despite her order on September 5 for FilmOn X to go dark everywhere but in New York, Connecticut and Vermont, the DC-based judge did not impose a fine on the company for its one-day indiscretion. Collyer did say in a hearing Monday that she would fine FilmOn X $20,000 a day if there was a repeat of the mistake — intentionally or not. READ MORE »
On day of the deadline set by a federal judge last week to explain why she shouldn’t hold FilmOn X in contempt of court for violating a nearly nationwide ban, the Alki David-run free-TV-over-the-Internet company basically said “Oops.” Calling the looming contempt “a drastic remedy,” FilmOn X on Monday said it was simply a mistake that it had copyrighted programming from Fox Broadcasting, ABC and NBC playing in the Boston area after DC-based Judge Rosemary Collyer’s order on September 5 to pull the plug everywhere but in New York, Connecticut and Vermont. “At worst, FilmOn X’s testing of its software inadvertently allowed a limit number of users in the First Circuit to access copyrighted programming for a brief period of time after the Hearst decision. Upon discovering that this error had occurred, FilmOn X immediately and voluntarily took corrective action before Plaintiffs brought this issue to this Court’s attention,” said the 15-page response filing from the company (read it here).
FilmOn X didn’t gain any traction from Aereo‘s legal win in Massachusetts last week. In fact, today’s decision by a DC-based federal judge to deny the Alki David-run free-TV-over-the-Internet company a modification to the almost nationwide preliminary injunction ordered on September 5 might have landed FilmOn X in more legal hot water. “It appears that FilmOn X may be acting in defiance of this Court’s Preliminary Injunction, possibly by retransmitting Plaintiff’s copyrighted broadcast programming in the Boston area,” the 3-page ruling (read it here) from Judge Rosemary Collyer said, referring to her ruling last month in favor of Fox Broadcasting, ABC and NBC. The judge is giving FilmOn X 6 days to explain why she shouldn’t hold them in contempt of court.
The latest legal hand-slap comes after FilmOn X on October 10 petitioned the court to add Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine to the states not covered by the injunction. It cited the October 10 denial of an injunction sought by a Hearst-owned ABC affiliate against Aereo in Massachusetts as legal justification, but today the judge distinctly disagreed and told FilmOn X to check its facts and courts.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Egypt Extends Canadian Filmmaker’s Detention; Helen Flint Launches Little Island Productions; More
Egypt Extends Detention Of Canadian Filmmaker Held Since August
Egyptian authorities have extended the detention of Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and his colleague Tarek Loubani, who have been held since August without being charged. Officials say they are being held during an investigating of items found in the men’s hotel room, including a camera attached to a small plane. The Canadian government has called for the release of Greyson and Loubani, who have been on a hunger strike in jail for the past two weeks. There also were several shows of support during the Toronto Film Festival. They were en route to Gaza on a humanitarian mission August 14 when they asked Cairo police for directions and were arrested. Amnesty International says scores of those arrested since have been deprived of their basic legal rights.
Helen Flint Launches TV Company Little Island Productions
Former Company Pictures exec Helen Flint has formed Little Island Productions with a view to producing scripted drama for the UK and global markets. Flint spent eight years with All3Media’s Company Pictures (The White Queen) and produced 2006 award winner Longford. Company’s Alex Protherough is joining Flint at Little Island as Production Executive. Little Island will also sport a production services arm to aid international and UK domestic companies seeking to benefit from the new UK TV tax credit.
Broadcasters say that both services violate local TV stations’ copyrights by streaming free, over-the-air transmissions without payment. And the media companies were encouraged by recent court victories over FilmOnX. But Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, who has been winning most of his legal battles, says not so fast. Since there’s never been an opportunity to look at the FilmOnX system in depth “we don’t know what the technology is,” he told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference. “I just don’t know so I shy from doing a comparison.” Meanwhile, Kanojia says he has a winning hand with his case that says Aereo merely allows consumers to lease technologies — including antennas — that they have a right to use. Unlike cable and satellite companies that push channels to consumers (the set top box typically filters out the ones you don’t want), with Aereo “the signal sits dead without your intervention.” That makes his system similar in legal terms to an Internet server, such as Google Drive, that allows consumers to store their music collections. “If you stop Aereo, you’d be stopping entire industries.”
Related: Aereo Expands To Four More Cities
That’s three legal losses in a row for FilmOn X in a week. Today the D.C. District Court denied emergency stay motions by the company and its CEO Alki David against an almost nationwide injunction from a case launched by Fox Television Stations, ABC and NBC. The free-TV-over-the-Internet company was trying to stop the September 5 ordered preliminary injunction from taking effect, to have it modified it so that it covered only the court’s direct jurisdiction and to increase the amount of the bond form $250,000 to 2.75 million. The judge said No all round. “FilmOn X’s arguments are not persuasive. The Court weighed the relevant factors – likelihood of success on the merits, possibility of irreparable harm, balance of the harm, and the public interest – it its Opinion and concluded that all four considerations favor Plaintiffs. That conclusion remains in equal force now. Most importantly, Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim,” said Judge Rosemary Collyer Thursday in a memo opinion accompanying her order (read them here and here). The injunction is set to take effect today though FilmOn X subscribers can still access material that the service has licenses for. Still for David, the broadcasters’ win today is a mere battle in his war with them. “They continually try to thwart innovation, destroy the first amendment and steal from the public. It is best they give up soon because it will be cheaper less bloody for them in the long run,” he told me this afternoon.
2ND UPDATE, 12:30 PM: The contempt of court ruling leveled against FilmOn on Tuesday is quickly turning into a battle outside the courts as well. Today plaintiff CBS told me that it did not withhold any licensing agreement from FilmOn from the court because it never received one – despite what the streaming service’s lawyer says. Last night, after I reported on the contempt of court ruling against FilmOn and its CEO Alki David, attorney Ryan Baker contacted me to say he had given the document requested by the court to CBS counsel on August 20 but the network never made that known to the federal court. Baker alleged that such a failure of notification led Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to make the contempt of court ruling on Tuesday. CBS clearly begs to differ. Read their statement here:
No wonder this lawyer’s client was held in contempt. The court held a complete hearing on this subject and no licensing agreement was produced by either this lawyer or his client. Of course no such agreement exists. Would not this lawyer produce such an agreement to the court if it did? The client failed to produce such an agreement, the lawyer failed to produce such an agreement and the court pointed this out in its opinion (see, pages 20-21 of the opinion). CBS has never received or for that matter even seen such a so-called executed licensing agreement. Talk of diversionary tactics. This is sour grapes so strong that the fermentation has already begun. They lost, period.
LONDON AUG 1st 2013 FILMON.COM – the world’s largest provider of internet television owned by media billionaire Alki David – today announced a landmark agreement with Spanish state-broadcaster TVE to stream an international version of the channel on a global basis.
The historic arrangement will see FilmOn become the first ever IPTV provider to enter into an agreement with TVE to stream the broadcaster’s content straight to PCs and smartphones on a revenue share basis.
Media provocateur Alki David‘s service stopped streaming over-the-air broadcast signals in DC in May, after ABC, Fox, and NBC filed a copyright infringement suit in federal court . But now he says he’s back on in the Nation’s Capitol. He’s also returning fire with a countersuit (read it here) that charges the networks with trying to “abandon their responsibilities to the American public.” The broadcasters have the benefit of using the publicly owned airwaves for free, which also gives them the right to demand carriage on basic cable. In return “the Networks have an obligation to serve the public.” But the filing says that they “continue to attempt to block consumers’ access to valuable and beneficial technologies” like the streaming service provided by David’s company — which had been called Aereokiller and now calls itself FilmOn X. “The FilmOn X technology enhances customers’ ability to watch the same free over-the-air broadcast content that the American public is entitled to receive in accordance with the public interest recognized by Congress and the Supreme Court,” the court filing says. It also alleges that NBC broke the law by refusing to negotiate a carriage deal with FilmOn X:
Looks like the streaming of network TV is about to end in Washington DC. Less than a week after ABC, NBC and Fox filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court in DC against Alki David‘s FilmOn and his Aereokiller service, the media industry provocateur says he’s pulling the broadcasters from his streaming service. “To avoid more inane lawsuits and one that is clearly rigged, we have decided to take down the Major Broadcasters in Washington DC and replace them with Independent stations. Something we are considering doing all across the country,” David said today in an open letter to broadcasters. David offers no date for when he will pull the networks from his service or any timeline. The lawsuit filed by the three networks on May 23 asked the court for an injunction to stop FilmOn and Aereokiller from being able to stream their local programming online.
ABC, NBC and Fox today filed a lawsuit against digital entrepreneur Alki David‘s FilmOn and his Aereokiller service, claiming copyright infringement. Allbritton, which owns ABC’s TV station Washington DC also is a plaintiff in the suit. Filed in Federal District Court in D.C. on David’s 45th birthday, the complaint (read it here) is similar to one filed in Los Angeles in August by ABC, NBC and CBS against his streaming site that then was known as BarryDriller.com. It, in turn, hewed closely to a suit filed against the site by Fox days earlier. (David this week finally settled his name-game tussle with Barry Diller and the latter’s Aereo service.)
David is a media industry provocateur whose FilmOn streams programming taken from over-the-air signals, and it — like Diller’s Aereo — has incurred the wrath of broadcasters. In today’s suit, the networks and Allbritton claim that “Aereokiller provides users and subscribers the ability to receive whichever broadcast station the user or subscriber chooses, ultimately having the ability to watch live broadcast television programming over the Internet using any device. In other words, through the Aereokiller service, Defendants built a business founded on offering its users and subscribers a ‘live’ Internet and mobile streaming service based on Plaintiffs’ television programming, but without authorization or license from Plaintiffs.”
The freewheeling head of FilmOn has to stop using names including Aereokiller and BarryDriller.com for his broadcast streaming service according a settlement overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins. The …
The media industry provocateur is irked that journalists (including me) take his bete noir, Barry Diller-backed Aereo, more seriously than his FilmOn.TV. But now Alki David will bring his message directly to the public. He says that he’ll start an ad campaign in the New York tri-state area to promote his streaming service with messages on TV, online, print and outdoor. His company adds that the marketing “will also be rolled out in the coming weeks in the other 30 major U.S. markets which the FilmOn service is already freely available” including Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Washington DC, San Francisco and Denver. David says Boston will come online next week with other cities to be added each week “thereafter.” The first TV ad shows David “driving a red Ferrari at high speed while watching TV on a mobile phone. A second commercial featuring Mike The Situation from Jersey Shore fame will appear on local television in the coming weeks.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval, $1.6B In UK Digital Entertainment Sales, Alki David And Quickflix & More
Wild Bunch Exec Protests High Costs Of French Filmmaking
An editorial written by Wild Bunch co-founder and sales chief Vincent Maraval has whipped up a mini-storm within the French film industry. The exec, who’s had a hand in such films as The Artist, The Wrestler, Pan’s Labyrinth, Fahrenheit 9/11, City Of God and March Of The Penguins, blasted the current state of French cinema, calling 2012 a “disaster”. France enjoys possibly the world’s most generous subsidy system which relies in part on investment by local TV networks, but Maraval says “even the biggest commercial successes lose money” with budgets inflated by above the line costs. Calling France “the world record holder for the average cost of production” after the U.S., Maraval says “French actors are rich from public funds and from a system that protects the cultural exception.” Maraval cites such talent as Vincent Cassel, Jean Reno, Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet and Audrey Tautou and asks why they would “be paid from €500,000 to €2M ($655K to $2.62M) for a French film limited to the French market but when they shoot an American film, whose market is worldwide, they’re happy with €50,000 to €200,000 ($65.5K to $262K)?