FilmOn thumbs nose at TV streaming ban, faces contempt of court charge

judge banging gavel

To all the perks of being a billionaire, you can add one more: taunting judges. That is what Alki David, the eccentric CEO of FilmOn, is doing by streaming live TV over the internet in Boston after a federal court told him not to do that.

Unsurprisingly, the judge in question has become annoyed and told FilmOn to explain by October 21 why the company should not be found in contempt of court.

In case you’re new to all this, FilmOn has been trying to ride the coattails of recent legal victories by Aereo, a start-up that lets subscribers watch and record over-the-air TV for $8 a month. Broadcasters, which have tried and failed to shut down Aereo for copyright infringement, have had more luck with FilmOn; Fox, CBS and others persuaded a DC court in September to issue an injunction barring FilmOn from streaming anywhere in the country outside three states where a higher court has said such streaming is legal.

Last week, a federal court in Boston sided with Aereo. This prompted FilmOn to defy the injunction and turn its services back on, since (in FilmOn’s view), the Boston ruling applied to it too. The DC judge, not amused, wrote: “A contrary decision by a co-equal court in another district involving different parties does not represent a change in controlling law.”

The ruling comes as broadcasters last week asked the Supreme Court to rule on the Aereo case (the court is likely to sit it out until at least next year). Here’s the DC filing:

FilmOn Show Cause Order

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