Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...
March 24 — Online television service provider FilmOn X, LLC isn't entitled to a compulsory license under the Copyright Act to stream copyrighted television programming over the Internet, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled March 23.
FilmOn X's Internet-based retransmission service doesn't meet the definition of a “cable system” under Section 111 of the statute, 17 U.S.C. § 111, because it doesn't retransmit the broadcast signals directly to subscribers, Judge Charles P. Kocoras said.
The case is one of several across the country that had been awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Am. Broad. Cos. v. Aereo, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2498 (U.S. 2014) , which held a similar service provider liable for copyright infringement.
Section 111 of the Copyright Act creates a compulsory license designed to allow cable systems to operate without the permission of broadcasters, so long as it pays royalties set by the Copyright Royalty Board and meets other conditions. A cable system is defined as a physical facility that receives broadcast signals and further transmits those signals by a communication channel to paying subscribers.
Plaintiff FilmOn X sought a ruling that the technology it used to retransmit Window to the World Communications Inc.'s (WTTW) broadcast programming to subscribers' mobile devices didn't infringe WTTW's copyrights.
The Supreme Court in Aereo interpreted the Copyright Act's transmit clause, 7 U.S.C. § 101, to prohibit Aereo Inc. from retransmitting copyrighted television programs to individual Internet users.
FilmOn X, subsequent to that decision, argued a different theory: that the retransmission of copyrighted works is authorized under the compulsory license scheme in Section 111.
The court agreed with the federal district court in the District of Columbia—in a Dec. 2, 2015 opinion in , 117 U.S.P.Q.2d 1100 (D.D.C. 2015) —that FilmOn X wasn't a “cable system” within the meaning of Section 111 because it relied on the Internet to deliver content to the subscriber.
The facility that FilmOn X controls and operates makes secondary transmissions to the Internet as opposed to sending them directly to the subscriber's device, the court said.
Congress enacted Section 111 to “cover the operation of cable television systems (not Internet-based systems), which both receive signals and retransmit them directly to their customers,” it said.
Jayaram Law Group represented FilmOn X. Jenner & Block LLP represented WTTW.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joseph Wright at email@example.com
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)