Court denies 'cable' service claim

A federal judge has ordered an online streaming service to halt its unauthorized feeds of broadcast TV stations.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald didn’t buy the argument from Ivi that it was allowed to transmit the programming to its online subscribers because it fell under the definition of a “cable” system in a provision of the Copyright Act. A coalition of broadcast stations and the major networks are seeking to shut the service down, claiming that it is copyright infringement.

“To place defendants’ argument in a real world context, they assert that for the payment of approximately $100 a year to the Copyright Office (the payment for a Section 111 compulsory license) and without compliance with the strictures of the Communications Act or plaintiffs’ consent, that they are entitled to use and profit from the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works,” Buchwald wrote in a 59-page opinion granting a preliminary injunction.

In November, the judge issued a temporary restraining order against another online service, FilmOn.com, halting its streaming of station signals.

Todd Weaver, CEO of Ivi, said his company plans to appeal, and will “explore congressional and administrative solutions, and will continue to advance the public’s interest in a balanced reading of the copyright law.””Judge Buchwald’s opinion is premised on her statement that Ivi is ‘not complying with the rules and regulations of the FCC.’ This conclusion is simply false, as Ivi has met with all the commisioner’s offices of the FCC repeatedly and has received assurances that we are in full and complete compliance,” Weaver said in a statement. “Judge Buchwald makes the legal mistake of misinterpreting the copyright law to instead make communications policy. Communications policy is the province of the FCC and, by basing a judicial copyright decision on communications regulations to be administered by the FCC, the judge is overstepping her constitutional authority.”

Weaver said that while Ivi will suspend streaming of broadcast channels, it will continue to operate with other content.

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