updated 03:30 pm EST, Tue February 22, 2011
ivi slapped with injunction banning TV streaming
ivi TV faced its first major setback on Tuesday as New York Judge Naomi Buchwald gave the industry a preliminary injunction banning ivi from offering its Internet video streams. The service which revolves around retransmitting TV broadcasts through online streams, was told it couldn't broadcast during the course of the lawsuit. Judge Buchwald didn't believe ivi's claims that it was a cable operator under the Copyright Act and had "barely restrained incredulity" that it thought it could pay the bare essentials in broadcasting fees without paying attention to rights and other concerns.
"They [at ivi] assert that for the payment of approximately $100 a year to the Copyright Office 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," she said.
The young firm has insisted that the case was a matter of breaking down TV provider dominance and likened it to the highly regionalized cable structure of the 1970s. Judge Buchwald noted that ivi's Internet system inherently broadcast to the entire US and that cable providers at least followed FCC rules.
The plaintiffs had already argued that they never gave permission to rebroadcast their channels online and that, even if they had, the broadcasts were going beyond the target markets. ivi has charged about $5 per month for its client and never made a distinction as to which areas were getting the streams.
ivi's representative, Hal Bringman, has already promised an appeal to the injunction and to keep its business going. An advocacy group, Public Knowledge, said it was "disappointed" and said the rules simply highlighted the "ambiguities" in how the current laws handled broadcasting a TV stream online.
The service has been interpreted as at least mildly popular and got to the point where it had a queued registration system. It went so far as to include its own TV programming guide and introduced a mild amount of timeshifting. ivi has never said how much it was making on the streams. [via FierceOnlineVideo]