Innovation Asset Blog

TV streaming startups still deflecting copyright controversies

As digital innovators attempt to bridge the gap between traditional TV broadcasters and increasingly on-the-go audiences, a number of thorny copyright questions have arisen. Following in the footsteps of Aereo, streaming specialist FilmOn now finds itself fighting back against infringement allegations authored by the likes of ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX.

According to MediaPost, both Aereo and FilmOn rely on a collection of thousands of miniature antennas that stream over-the-air TV programming to web-enabled devices for a fee well below standard cable subscription rates. However, the two brands are enjoying differential success in defending the legality of their business models.

Aereo has substantiated its right to operate in the New York metropolitan market, though the case is still pending on appeal, while FilmOn is facing uphill battles in California and now the District of Columbia.

Considering the supporting infrastructure is essentially the same for each company, impending rulings involving FilmOn could go a long way toward determining whether Aereo can expand beyond its home hub in New York City. Although copyright interpretations have varied between jurisdictions, the key for each startup may be asserting that mobile streaming does not constitute public performance and/or does constitute transformative use of the content.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.