Remember Ivi, the online service that streamed the live feeds of TV broadcasters online until it got shut down by a preliminary injunction in February? Turns out, Ivi is still around, trying to appeal the injunction, and now it’s asking users to chip in and help cover its legal fees. This week, the company sent out an email to registered users, asking them to “help ivi fight against the cable companies” and “make TV affordable and accessible to all.”
The email came with a link to the Kickstarter-like site Indiegogo.com, where Ivi is asking for $20,000 to help foot its legal fees. Check out a video of Ivi CEO Todd Weaver making his case below:
Ivi made a lot of headlines when it launched about a year ago, because it seemed to have found a loophole to distribute broadcast streams online. In essence, Ivi argued it was like a cable TV operator, which made it possible to retransmit over-the-air programming simply by paying statutory fees to the U.S. Copyright Office. However, it also argued that it wasn’t bound to the same FCC rules as traditional cable TV operators since it was using the Internet, which isn’t regulated by the FCC. That meant Ivi didn’t have to get retransmission consent or pay the increasingly steep retrans fees to reuse broadcast signals.
The court didn’t follow this logic, and simply ruled that Ivi wasn’t a cable system, and as such didn’t have the right to retransmit anything without proper licensing. Ivi has since filed an appeal brief in June (PDF), in which it said that it tried to get licenses from TV networks, but was rebuffed, leaving only the loophole as a last resort.
Some have argued that Ivi’s court case could decide the future of TV on the Internet. However, with Ivi pleading for donations to cover its legal fees only a few months after the injunction came down against it, one has to wonder whether the company is really equipped to take on a legal fight that could potentially take years.