OTT Internet TV service FilmOn X has set out its case against the appeal by US broadcast networks’ of the July 2015 ruling by a judge that FilmOn X is entitled to a compulsory license under the Copyright Act of 1976.
While stations are being confronted with new tech challenges and growing competition from online, plus growing consumer demand to watch shows when they want, these changes also offer forward-thinking station operators new opportunities as well. One example is rethinking the retransmission consent/compulsory license process.
Maybe so, says the General Accountability Office in a congressionally mandated study. A market-based approach to licensing broadcast programming to cable and satellite operators might be a better way, it says. If it works in the OTT world, why not cable and satellite, it asks. One sticking point is what to do with must-carry rules, which rely on the compulsory license.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected FilmOn.com Inc.’s claims that a judge abused his discretion by holding the company in contempt and penalizing it $90,000. The company also was ordered to pay more than $100,000 in legal fees.
Online video distributor FilmOn is not entitled to a compulsory cable license that would enable it to stream TV programs, a coalition of TV broadcasters argues in new court papers. The broadcasters want the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a decision issued last year by U.S. District Court Judge George Wu in Los Angeles, who said that FilmOn should be considered a “cable system,” and therefore entitled to a cable license.
The U.S. District Court in Washington has decided that FilmOn could not rely on the compulsory license of Section 111 of the 1976 Copyright Act to retransmit the signals of over-the-air television stations to consumers over the Internet. That puts it at odds with an earlier opinion from a federal court in California that ruled that FilmOn was entitled to the license. “[T]his dispute could be resolved in any number of ways, short of a return trip to the Supreme Court. But it is an issue that will no doubt be revisited in some forum or another in the not too distant future.”
A D.C. federal judge has ruled that FilmOn is liable for infringing the public performance rights of Fox Television and other major broadcasters and has dealt a blow to the digital streamer’s argument that it is entitled to a compulsory license of programming.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s push to eliminate the exclusivity rules is on indefinite hold, according to an agency source. The NAB has been working to derail the effort, concerned in part that elimination of the rules would undermine broadcasters’ ability to negotiate for retrans fees.
FCC Mass Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake rejects broadcasters’ assertion that the rules are “inextricably linked” to the compulsory copyright license and that their elimination will effectively give cable and satellite operators “a free ride” to carry broadcast signals without paying for them.”The asserted inextricable link does not exist — nor does the imagined free ride,” he says.
“While I believe that repealing the compulsory license is warranted,” says former Disney lobbying Preston Padden, the one unthinkable course “would be to break apart the carefully balanced 1971 agreement between the broadcasting and cable industries — to eliminate the FCC’s syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication rules before Congress acts to repeal the distant signal compulsory license.”
Some may downplay FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plans to eliminate the network non-dupe and syndicated exclusivity rules, but that would be a mistake. The move means that cable and satellite operators have likely won the first battle in their campaign to rewrite the retrans rules and undermine broadcasters’ ability to negotiate for higher fees.
Web video distributor FilmOn X is not entitled to a license that would enable it to stream television programs online, a coalition of broadcasters argues in new court papers. The broadcasters are asking the 9th Circuit for permission to appeal an “aberrant decision” issued last month by U.S District Court Judge George Wu in Los Angeles, who sided with FilmOn on a key issue: Wu wrote that FilmOn X is a “cable system,” potentially entitled to a compulsory license.
Yesterday’s U.S. district court ruling that online video distributors are entitled to the compulsory license is not the “shocker” some were calling it. It has no immediate effect and there is a lot of litigation to go before anything is settled. What’s more, even if the courts grant FilmOn and other OVDs the license, they will still have to go to broadcasters for retransmission consent..The FCC is going to see to that.
The broadcast TV networks were hit with a legal setback on Thursday when a federal judge issued a ruling declaring that the streaming company FilmOn was potentially entitled to a compulsory license of broadcasters’ copyrighted programming. If the judge’s opinion survives scrutiny on appeal, it could mean that CBS, Fox, NBC and ABC have to license their programming to a digital outlet at below-market rates.
Through TV Everywhere, CBS All Access and OTT services like Sony’s PlayStation Vue, the O&Os and affiliates are finally making the leap to broadband distribution. But the affiliates are still not entirely happy with the state of affairs because their streaming dreams are totally subject to the networks. Affiliates ability to dictate some terms may depend on an FCC proposal to regulate online video distributors.
In Senate testimony to be delivered next week, former Fox and Disney lobbyist Preston Padden says broadcasters would be better off if Congress repealed the compulsory license and retransmission consent. Broadcasters could then act just as cable networks do and perhaps extend their signals to the Internet and other digital platforms. It sounds good in theory, but why mess with the status quo, which is working in broadcasters’ favor right now?
Sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act would repeal the compulsory license, must-carry, retransmission consent and local broadcast ownership limits. NAB turns thumbs down.
The U.S. Copyright Office is proposing that Congress phase out the cable and satellite statutory licenses in the Copyright Act, calling them “an artifact of an earlier era.” The so-called compulsory license, established in 1976, allows cable and satellite operators to distribute broadcast television signals in return for paying a one-size-fits-all copyright fee to the Copyright Royalty Tribunal.