Enlarge / FilmOn CEO Alkiviades “Alki” David at an event in Los Angeles in 2015. (credit: Vivien Killilea / WireImage)
Remember the startup Aereo? That’s the Boston-based outfit that tried to sell TV over the Internet for $8 a month before it was stymied by the TV networks.

The networks argued that Aereo’s system infringed their copyrighted programs.

After years of legal battles, the Supreme Court sided with the networks in 2014.

The court says that Aereo’s system of “renting” tiny antennas to each customer didn’t protect it from copyright allegations.
In a 6-3 opinion, the high court held that Aereo looked like a cable system, so its users weren’t entitled to free over-the-air broadcasts.
Aereo went back and argued that if it was so much like a cable system, it should be allowed to pay the same (low) royalty rates that the cable industry pays. The courts rejected that argument, though. Aereo looked too much like a cable system to have access to free OTA transmissions, but apparently not enough like one to get the state-mandated royalty rates that cable providers pay.
In 2015, upstart competitor FilmOn looked like it may have broken through the legal barrier that stopped Aereo.

FilmOn CEO Alki David brashly created an Aereo competitor with his own tiny antennas, even calling it AereoKiller at first.

But whereas Aereo and its predecessors had lost their battles to be defined as a “cable system,” FilmOn managed to pull out a win in a Los Angeles federal court, when US District Judge George Wu ruled that the company should be allowed to carry on with its business if it paid the compulsory licensing rate. Wu acknowledged his decision was in conflict with other district courts, as well as the 2nd Circuit appeals court.
So he allowed the TV networks fighting FilmOn to immediately appeal to the 9th Circuit.
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