updated 10:15 pm EDT, Mon April 4, 2011
Company streams from physical DVDs
The Motion PIcture Association of America has filed a lawsuit accusing video rental startup Zediva of copyright infringement. The conflict centers around the technical nature of Zediva's services, which are based on physical DVDs that never reach customers. Instead, the startup enables customers to view video streams from the company's in-house DVD players that can be remotely controlled from a computer.
Although the content is accessed in a similar way to alternative services such as Netflix, the Zediva method provides early access to many titles that production companies release on DVD before delaying digital distribution.
Zediva argues that its service properly adheres to the same copyright rules as traditional DVD rentals from brick-and-mortar locations. Unlike streaming services, the company must have a physical DVD playing through a DVD player for every customer who wants to view a particular title.
In its filing, the MPAA claims Zediva is attempting to use "technical gimmicks in an effort to avoid complying with US Copyright law." The trade group suggests it is "disingenuous" to compare the startup's service to a "neighborhood rental store," when it is actually an online video-on-demand service.
Zediva's defense strategy remains unclear, as the company has yet to formally respond to the MPAA's filing, though a Hollywood Reporter report suggests the company may attempt to liken the situation to Cablevision's conflict with TV production companies over DVR integration. Studios used similar language, accusing Cablevision of creating an "unauthorized video-on-demand service," though the cable provider eventually won the suit.