Advanced Television

ivi broadcasting ban upheld

August 28, 2012

By Colin Mann

A US federal appeals court has affirmed a 2011 lower court decision blocking ivi TV from streaming broadcasters’ live signals on the Internet.

In September 2010, Walt Disney’s ABC, CBS and other broadcasters sued Ivi, an online subscription service, for streaming television programmes over the Web without authorisation. The companies, also including Fox, NBC and the Public Broadcasting Service, accused Ivi and its founder Todd Weaver of copyright infringement in a federal court complaint in New York.

ivi, based in Seattle, began streaming TV stations there and in New York 24 hours a day to Web subscribers worldwide in mid-September 2010. Viewers would pay $4.99 a month after a 30-day free trial, the complaint said.

At the request of the networks and other broadcasters, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction against ivi early last year.

In its decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York upheld the injunction. “Continued live transmissions of copyrighted television programming over the Internet without consent would … threaten to destabilise the entire industry,” the appellate court panel ruled, adding that “the public has a compelling interest in protecting copyright owners’ marketable rights to their work and the economic incentive to continue creating television programming,”

Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, said the body was gratified by the court’s decision. “This confirms that Congress never intended to allow Internet providers to retransmit broadcast programming without the consent of copyright owners,” he stated.

Broadcasters are also seeking that the New York appeals court overturns a lower court’s refusal to issue an injunction blocking Barry Diller-backed Aereo, a service that allows subscribers in New York City to access local TV signals over their computers and mobile devices. Wharton was confident that upon appeal, Aereo would be found to be a copyright infringer.

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