Free speech lobby back TV streamer ivi

Four groups have ‘friended’ ivi.tv, the Seattle company streaming TV signals online without broadcasters’ consent. Public Knowledge and three other organisations filed an amicus brief with the US District Court in New York  backing ivi.tv. The streamer is the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by broadcasters seeking to shut it down.

Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Access Project and Open Technology Initiative filed the brief. They characterised ivi.tv as part of an emerging wave of online video providers that are fostering competition and helping to hold down cable and satellite TV rates.

Online video providers “must be allowed to operate and innovate in this space if their promise is to be fulfilled,” the groups said. “Issuing a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction against ivi would frustrate this potential by effectively shutting down ivi’s business.”

The brief supported ivi’s position that it has the right to carry TV signals under copyright law because it fits the Copyright Act definition of a cable system. The Act holds that a “cable system is a facility… that in whole or in part receives signals transmitted or programmes broadcast by one or more television broadcast stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, and makes secondary transmissions of such signals or programs by wires, cables, microwave or other communications channels to subscribing members of the public who pay for such service.”

ivi.tv offers around 65 channels for $5 a month in Seattle, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Plaintiffs against ivi.tv include ABC, CBS, The CW Television Stations, NBC Universal, Major League Baseball, Fisher Broadcasting, Tribune and Fox Television among others.

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