On the same day legislators, unions and others pledged their support for a crackdown on pirated online content, the Motion Picture Association of America filed suit against online VOD video streaming service, Zediva.
"Zediva claims it is like a brick-and-mortar DVD 'rental' store and therefore not obligated to pay licensing fees to copyright holders," said MPAA in filing the suit Monday In a California District Court. "In reality, Zediva is a video-on-demand service that transmits movies over the Internet using streaming technologies in violation of the studios' copyrights," the studios said.
They distinguished that from "major cable companies" video-on-demand services, and services like Netflix, Amazon.com, and Vudu, which pay to stream movie content.
At press time, Zediva was not allowing anyone to register for the service, saying it was "buidling new capacity." Zediva advertises itself as providing "new movies before Netflix or Redbox," but arguing that what it is doing is providing "DVDs over the Internet."
"Zediva's mischaracterization of itself is a gimmick it hopes will enable it to evade the law and stream movies in violation of the studios' exclusive rights," said Dan Robbins, SVP and Associate General Counsel for the MPAA in a statement.
The studios are seeking an injunction against the service and damages for violating their Copyright Act exclusive rights to 'publicly perform' their movies."
MPAA says Zediva is not protected by the "first sale" doctrine, which it says applies to the sale of physical DVDs, not public performances. It also argues that Zediva is not protected by the Cablevision case, in which a video stream saved on a network server for later viewing was ruled a remote version of home copying rather than a public performance. The Supreme Court upheld that decision. "The Cablevision case involved a different service and factual scenario, and does not apply to the facts of this case," said MPAA.
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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.