Why FilmOn X’s Claim That It Is A Cable System Was Nixed

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By Lucy Holmes Plovnick

On March 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in Fox Television Stations, Inc. v. Aerokiller, et al. that FilmOn X, a service providing paying subscribers with access to retransmitted broadcast signals over the internet, did not qualify for the cable statutory license in Section 111 of the Copyright Act.


The Section 111 statutory license allows cable systems to simultaneously retransmit broadcast signals into distant markets, provided that the cable operators submit royalties to the Copyright Office on a semi-annual basis and comply with all applicable FCC regulations.

The Ninth Circuit reversed a ruling by Judge George H. Wu in the Central District of California, which had previously awarded partial summary judgment in FilmOn X’s favor. Judge Wu had found that FilmOn X’s internet-based retransmission system should be considered a “cable system” under Section 111, and thus was eligible for the cable statutory license.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling overturns Judge Wu’s decision.

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