Following Aereo’s defeat, FilmOn says it will change its format to stay in business

aereos defeat filmon vows stay business alki david
As the dust begins to settle on Aereo’s recent defeat by the Supreme Court – which denounced the service’s retransmission of network broadcasts without paying licensing fees as illegal – Aereo rival, FilmOn, has vowed to stay open for business. According to a report by MultiChannel News, FilmOn has transitioned from a free service to move behind a “paywall,” with plans to negotiate for the licensing of content in accordance with the Court’s decision.

FilmOn, previously known as AereoKiller, has a contentious past in the over-the-top (OTT) industry, as does its outspoken CEO, Alki David. The service, known anecdotally as an Aereo copycat, started around the same time as Aereo, both of which began by offering retransmission of network broadcasts over the Web via tiny antennae. Both services have also been under a constant assault of litigation from major networks for their efforts, including parent companies for Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, and even PBS.

However, FilmOn tasted more defeat than victory early on in comparison to its rival. Suffering losses in both California, and a nationwide injunction in Washington, DC, FilmOn has thus far stayed in business mainly due to courtroom victories for Aereo, whose right to remain in operation was upheld by decisions in New York and Boston. Those legal precedents helped keep both services from being shuttered outright, while, on the flipside, FilmOn’s string of losses put both services in peril, and helped lead up to Aereo’s eventual defeat in the Supreme Court.

Seemingly undeterred, FilmOn has charted a new course. While Aereo has consistently maintained that paying licensing fees would put it out of business, according to MCN, FilmOn has stated that it is willing to pay up to stay online. FilmOn’s David goes on to say that, since Justice Breyer’s majority decision compared Aereo to a cable provider, the service will begin to act like a cable company, calling the Court’s comparison a “very clear designation.”

“If it functions like a cable company, it should be treated like a cable company,” David writes. “FilmOn meets all the criteria.”

The company said it has filed with the U.S. copyright office for the right to license broadcast content. However, while it is painting itself as a new kind of cable company, the service is reportedly looking to pay a different sort of licensing fee than cable providers: one that is tied to Copyright law, as opposed to the Communications Act, which provides the basis for the fees paid by providers like Comcast and Time Warner. In true FilmOn form, the service’s legal arguments are as clear as mud.

To make things even more complicated, FilmOn initiated a transition of its services from its antennae-based technology to a new broadcast method it calls “Teleport Technology” in February. Teleport Technology provides users with access to a network of hundreds of thousands of antenna-equipped remote desktop computers, ostensibly renting access to the devices instead of the antennae, which creates even more questions about its legality.

Even as it vows to go legit, however, given FilmOn’s legal history, it is unlikely to remain out of hot water for long. The FCC hasn’t yet made a clear designation of which licensing fees will pertain to over the top (OTT) services such as FilmOn, and the company’s even more brazen Teleport Technology is likely to be under fire at any given moment. In fact, a lawyer for the broadcasters, John Hune, told Gigaom’s Jeff John Roberts on Monday that FilmOn is “definitely not a cable company,” and can expect another lawsuit.

Whether or not FilmOn’s enigmatic leader, Alki David, is really serious about creating a new type of “cable” provider with his service, or simply looking to be a thorn in the side of broadcasters, remains to be seen.

Perhaps the biggest lesson to take away is that technology is moving faster and in more complicated ways than legal precedence, and even the experts in the field don’t seem to understand where the lines of the law come down. Even after Aereo’s defeat, the future of exactly how we will get our entertainment amidst the litany of power struggles and rapidly evolving technologies is anyone’s guess. FilmOn, and others, seem ready and willing to push the industry into uncharted territory.

We’ll follow this story as it develops, so stay tuned.

Home Theater

Kanopy privacy breach reveals which movies members have been streaming

Free video streaming site, Kanopy, has been inadvertently publishing millions of lines of web log data for days, according to a new security report. A bad actor could guess a person's identity and see what they've been watching.
Smart Home

Need some help? Here's our handy step-by-step guide on how to Airbnb your home

Getting ready to make your home a great rental? Here's how to Airbnb your home with the right amenities, insurance, supplies, and everthing else that you need. Use this guide to get started without making beginner mistakes!
Home Theater

Hulu vs. Amazon Prime Video: Which streaming service is best for you?

It's hard to dispute Netflix's leadership in on-demand streaming video, it's not alone. Two great alternatives are Amazon Prime Video and Hulu; each with its strengths and weaknesses. Which one is better? We pick the winner.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Home Theater

March Madness deal alert: Get a 43-inch LG 4K HDR TV for just $270

March is a great time to find a deal on a new TV, and this one is worth every penny: Walmart is selling LG's 43-inch 43UK6300PUE, a very capable 4K HDR Smart TV, for almost 50 percent off the regular price, at $270.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Home Theater

How to connect your Roku device to your hotel room’s TV

Staying at a hotel, but can't bear to be parted from your favorite streaming shows and movies? Take them with you with our complete guide to using your Roku on the road when staying at a hotel.
Product Review

Audio-Technica's M50xBT headphones bring signature studio sound to the streets

Audio pros may balk at cutting the cord on studio headphones, but it’s hard to argue with these results. Audio-Technica’s wireless ATH-M50xBT offer massive battery life and killer sound you can take anywhere.

Apple’s Beats to reportedly release truly wireless PowerBeats earphones in April

Beats will reportedly release a truly wireless PowerBeats earphones next month, following the announcement of Apple's new AirPods. The second-generation AirPods received the new H1 chip, which is also expected to power the new PowerBeats.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: Deadwood, John Wick 3, Shazam, and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's new trailers for John Wick: Chapter 3, Deadwood, Shazam!, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: Cold War, Shoplifters, and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Cold War follows a tragic romance, The Inventor examines a famous fraud case, and more.
Movies & TV

Apple teases Monday’s big event with an early look into Steve Jobs Theater

Apple is gearing up for a big event on Monday where it's expected to unveil a video-streaming service. But more than 12 hours before it starts, the company has apparently already cranked up the event's livestream ...
Home Theater

TCL drops the price of its 75-inch 6-Series 4K Roku TV to $1,500

March is a great time for TV deals, and we've got a whopper: TCL has taken $300 off the price of its superb 75-inch 6-Series 4K HDR Roku TV, making it $1,500. That's the lowest price ever on this affordable TV.