Seatlle-based online TV start-up Ivi sued much of Hollywood today after receiving a number of cease and desist letters from TV networks for its recently launched video streaming service (hat tip to Techflash).
Ivi’s service retransmits original broadcast streams from networks like ABC, CBS and CW online, making it possible to watch live TV programming on your computer. The company said today that it has received more than 10 cease and desist letters from major broadcasters, as well as sports leagues like MLB. It is now seeking a declaratory judgment to clear itself from any infringement allegations.
In its lawsuit (PDF), Ivi essentially argues that it is protected by U.S. copyright law, which established provisions for a compulsory license for cable TV networks in 1976. These provisions essentially made it possible for cable TV providers to retransmit broadcast channels without separately negotiating each and every license. However, the 1992 Cable Act states that cable companies still have to get the go-ahead of a broadcaster, also known as retransmission consent, before they can make use of compulsory licensing of broadcast content. Ivi doesn’t address these issues at all in its lawsuit.
Ivi CEO Todd Weaver told us last week that he fully expected a “a typical knee-jerk reaction” from the broadcast industry. The company said today in a press release that its own lawsuit was meant to “discourage needless litigation.”
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