NEW YORK, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Four top U.S. television networks have asked a federal court to stop the Internet video service FilmOn.com from offering TV channels over the web and on Apple Inc's AAPL.O iPad for free.
FilmOn.com Plc 2F0.BE, which claims to be the first high definition Internet television network, launched in September 2010 and was founded by British billionaire entrepreneur Alki David, who recently offered to pay $1 million for someone to strip naked in front of US President Barack Obama.
The network’s suit comes as start-ups have sought to bypass traditional media companies by offering programming to Internet users without paying fees to free-to-air channels.
The networks, eager to control the way their programs are distributed, in September sued ivi Inc, a service that offers TV channels over the web for free. Some TV networks have also blocked videos on their websites from Google Inc's GOOG.O Google TV.
FilmOn, a Berlin-listed company, initially charged users $9.95 per month, to access “over 30 premium free-to-air television channels.” But it began offering the service for free after the networks sued FilmOn days after its Sept. 27 launch, according to a copy of the restraining order seen by Reuters.
“It’s against the law to steal a broadcast signal and stream it to wireless devices and over the Internet, without the copyright owner’s permission,” the networks said in a joint statement. “FilmOn.com is the latest in a short line of companies that has robbed our broadcast signals and distributed them illegally for their own commercial gain.”
A spokesman for FilmOn was not immediately reachable for comment.
The plaintiffs in the case are CBS Corp, Walt Disney Co's DIS.N ABC, General Electric Co GE.N-controlled NBC and News Corp's NWSA.O Fox, and CBS Corp CBS.N. (Reporting by Kenneth Li and Yinka Adegoke, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)
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