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Broadcasters Sue Ivi TV For Copyright Infringement

Major broadcasters and other content owners
Tuesday filed a copyright infringement suit against Ivi TV in a New York
federal district court, saying the service violates copyright law. They also
want the court to shut down the service while it considers the suit.

The issue of protecting online content has become
increasingly important with the move of more and more video, including TV
shows, to the Web.

The suit, for both copyright infringement and secondary
infringement (essentially liability for their subs' infringement),
followed Ivi TV's launch of its online video pay service two weeks ago
featuring TV station signals from New York and Seattle that the
company claims it is within its right to retransmit. Ivi argues that,
for purposes of copyright law, it is an online cable provider that is
allowed to retransmit the signals, but that it does not fall under the
definition of a cable system when it comes to the requirement of negotiating
retransmission consent from individual stations.

"Our complaint filed today with the U.S.
District Court of New York underscores our commitment to protect our rights
vigorously," said the plaintiffs. "This is a company that's simply
stealing our broadcast signals and copyrighted programming and streaming them
on the Internet without permission."

The plaintiffs include CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Disney,
Cox, WPIX, and the office of the commissioner of baseball, among various
associated studios.

They argue that the Sept. 13 launch, which
coincided with the launch of the fall season, "misappropriated some of the
most important content [on the stations] at a critical time of the year."

They also point out that the company plans to
add more stations every 45 days, including those from Los Angeles, Chicago and San

If that happens, they argue, the stations and
copyright license holders could suffer "substantial, irremediable

"This is a predictable move by big media to
try and stifle innovation and technology," said Ivi TV CEO Todd Weaver. "We
pay broadcasters in accordance with the law, just like cable. This is not about copyright, this is
about competition. In an initial knee-jerk reaction, broadcasters fought
against cable companies, then joined them. Broadcasters then fought against
satellite companies, then joined them. Today, it is our turn. Ivi TV pays
broadcasters and we increase their viewership. Broadcasters charge more in
advertising in return due to the increase in viewers. It is unfortunate that
big media chooses to fight innovation that is legal, pays them, and increases
their revenue."

Ivi last week filed its own suit, asking
a Seattle court for a declaratory ruling that its service did not infringe on
copyrights. Broadcasters said Tuesday that they are filing a motion to have
that court dismiss the Ivi suit.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.