WASHINGTON (CN) – As Aereo defends its online dissemination of television broadcasts in the Supreme Court, its competitor, FilmOn X, may not intervene, the justices said Monday.
While digital rights advocates applaud both companies, which launched around the same time, for expanding public access to the airwaves, networks condemn them as pirate operations.
They work by assigning subscribers a distinct mini-antenna for their computers that allows them to pick up nearly live transmissions of television broadcasts.
ABC, CBS and NBC sued Aereo, which is backed by Barry Diller’s IAC, in Manhattan, and brought similar claims against Film On X, owned by Alki David, in Los Angeles.
After U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan refused to cut off Aereo’s feed, a divided three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit affirmed in April 2013.
“Aereo’s system … provides the functionality of three devices: a standard TV antenna, a DVR, and a Slingbox-like device,” Judge Christopher Droney wrote for the majority. “These devices allow one to watch live television with the antenna; pause and record live television and watch recorded programing using the DVR; and use the Slingbox to watch both live and recorded programs on internet-connected mobile devices.”
Months later, the 9th Circuit seemed poised to uphold an injunction against Film On X.
Film On X also faces a nationwide injunction in Washington, D.C., and a New York federal judge also slapped the Internet TV service for violating a settlement and court injunction by streaming the networks’ programs.
Though a federal judge in Salt Lake City slapped Aereo with a six-state injunction last month, the has fared much better in the courts, such as the favorable ruling it scored in Boston this past fall.
The Supreme Court granted the networks a writ of certiorari for their New York case against Aereo in January. On Monday the court denied a motion by FilmOn X to intervene in the case. Justice Samuel Alito took no part in the consideration or decision of the motion, according to the order.
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