Round One in the battle between ivi TV and a host of TV broadcasters has gone to the latter, with a judge deeming the service illegal and ordering it to cease operations. Ivi TV will no doubt appeal, but this particular fight is surely all but over.
Ivi TV launched in September 2010 as a downloadable app which streamed broadcasts from the big U.S. television networks directly to people’s computers. It worked by taking the live cable feeds from Seattle and New York and rebroadcasting them to subscribers over the Internet.
It sounds illegal, but Ivi TV and its founder Todd Weaver believed they were protected by a passage in the Copyright Act written in the 1970s designed to help and protect fledgling local cable systems.
Not A Cable System
Ivi TV launched a pre-emptive lawsuit against its opponents almost immediately after launch. Those companies, along with a host of others, then sued ivi TV with the sole intention of getting it taken offline and out of business.
This week saw Judge Naomi Buchwald of the Southern District of New York rule in favor of the broadcasters. She stated that ivi TV was not protected by the 1970s law, mainly because the service cannot be classed as a cable system.
Therefore it would need permission from the broadcasters to retransmit their programming. Which it doesn’t have.
I never saw any other outcome than the one now playing out. Ivi TV may have exposed a loophole in the law as it stands, but that didn’t mean it was ever going to be allowed to get away with taking advantage of said loophole for a prolonged period of time.
I’m confident Ivi TV will appeal, and I’m confident of the same result being repeated. The law is completely out of date and needs fixing to take new technology into consideration, but that doesn’t mean those using that new technology are protected.
It’s a shame because Ivi TV was a steal at $4.99-a-month. But in the end it was too good to be true.
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