Nets join Fox in fight against Alki David's digital venture

NBC, ABC and CBS are now joining Fox in seeking a court order to stop Barrydriller.com, a recently launched startup that offers digital streams of broadcast channels.

The three networks filed suit on Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeking an injunction against the site, which they say infringes on their copyrights, after Fox filed a similar suit on Friday. It’s the latest legal tangle involving the founder of Barrydriller.com, entrepreneur Alki David, whose earlier efforts to offer digital broadcast streams via his FilmOn.com were halted after the networks won an initial court ruling in 2010.

The Barrydriller.com moniker is a reference to Aereo, a startup that has Barry Diller among its principal investors. Last month, Aereo survived an initial court hurdle when a New York federal judge refused the networks’ efforts to stop its service, in which digital broadcast streams are offered to subscribers via a farm of dime-sized antennas. Barrydriller.com, funded through an investment vehicle that David and others named Aereokiller LLC, is “designed to take advantage of the logic of the recent court ruling in the Aereo litigation,” David said in an email after the Fox suit was filed. Users connect to a remote antenna, and broadcasts are available only in designated market areas, what is called “geoblocking.”

“Its system only creates and stores content at the direction of its users,” David said.

BarryDriller has launched in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Minneapolis and will launch in San Francisco and Dallas in the next two weeks, he said. He added that the streaming service was not being done through FilmOn.

Last week, CBS, NBC and ABC and FilmOn filed a settlement with the federal court under which FilmOn would agree not to stream their broadcast signals without consent. In return, David agreed to dismiss his claims against CBS Interactive and CNET. He had filed suit on behalf of a group of artists claiming that CNET was offering access to software that enabled music piracy.

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