Ivi Defends Its Online TV Service

Ivi TV says its online TV station streaming
service is legal, but that a New York court should not pass judgment one way or
the other, but instead transfer the case to a Seattle court.

That came in a
filing in a U.S District Court in New York Friday.

Ivi (pronounced
"ivy") was responding to a petition by major broadcastgroups/studios, station owners, and Major League Baseball asking the court topull the plug--either through a temporary restraining order or preliminary
injunction--on ivi's streaming of TV station signals online, arguing that
it is illegal copyright infringement.

"The Copyright
Act expressly and unmistakably allows companies like ivi to make secondary
transmissions of over-the-air broadcasts without the express consent of the
Media Companies," said the streamer in its response to the petition.

Ivi also wants the
New York court to transfer the case to Seattle, where ivi is based and
where the court is currently considering ivi's request for a declaratory
ruling that its service does not infringe copyright.

Ivi argues that 1)
section 111 of the 1976 Copyright Act allows cable systems to retransmit
broadcasts, 2) that it is a cable system, 3) that it is entitled to a statutory
license and pays the Copyright Office per that license.

It also argues that
since it delivers its signal over the Internet, and the FCC does not regulate
the Internet, it is not subject to FCC retransmission consent rules.

Ivi says that to
grant a restraining order or injunction, there has to be a showing of harm and
a balancing of the harm to the media of not granting the injunction/order
versus the harm to ivi if either is granted.

Ivi argues that,
quite simply, either would put them out of business, and that it would not be
in the public's interest in any event since it is providing an inexpensive,
live television service to the consuming public.

By contrast, it
argues, ivi is too small to be able to "destroy" the value of
the media companies' content or lead to a significant loss in their
advertising. It argues its system is secure from pirates.

"There is no
irreparable harm whatsoever," ivi argues. "Every asserted harm
is remote and speculative, and none is real or imminent.  Each so-called
harm is also the same that the Media Companies would experience as a
result of any company exercising its right to take a statutory license."

"In sum,
if Big Media does not like the law as it exists, they should go to the
Congress, where we have no doubt their millions of dollars of contributions and
high paid lobbyists will work to attempt to change the law so that they can
continue to soak the consumer and limit technology innovation," said ivi
Chairman Ron Erickson.

"This is a
company that's simply stealing our broadcast signals and copyrighted
programming and streaming them on the Internet without permission," the
broadcasters had argued in asking for the injunctions or order.

The plaintiffs
include CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Disney, Cox, WPIX, and the Office of the
Commissioner of Baseball.

They argue that the Sept. 13 launch of ivi, 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

John Eggerton

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.