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FilmOn Gets Tentative Court Win to Stream Broadcast TV Content

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The online video industry is about to see a replay of Aereo's legal battles, although no one is in doubt about the ultimate conclusion. On Thursday, U.S. District Court judge George Wu sided with online streaming service FilmOn, ruling that the major broadcast networks might be required to license their content to the service.

The Supreme Court's ruling against streaming service Aereo might have seemed to put such questions to rest, but Judge Wu sees things differently. Looking at the Federal Copyright Act's section 111, which allows cable and satellite companies to negotiate a rate for broadcast content, Wu sees no distinction between cable, satellite, and online services.

The ruling won't change anything in the short-term, however, as Judge Wu has issued an injunction to preserve the status quo, while also kicking the case upstairs to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals.

While reports have described the ruling as "devastating" and "a legal earthquake," FilmOn's courtroom success is likely to end soon. The courts have already ruled against Aereo and TV streaming service Ivi in similar cases.

“This advisory opinion contravenes all legal precedent,” Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg Business. “The court only found that FilmOn could potentially qualify for a compulsory license, and we do not believe that is a possibility. We will of course appeal and fully expect to prevail.”

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