updated 05:25 pm EDT, Thu April 7, 2011
Time Warner Cable demands iPad app court judgment
Time Warner Cable on Thursday launched a preemptive strike against Viacom in hopes of getting a legal right to broadcast the network's shows through its iPad app. The motion for a declaratory judgment asked a Southern District of New York court to say that the TWCable TV app was within TWC's broadcast rights. Viacom had threatened legal action but would be barred from any measure if a judgment came in TWC's favor.
General Counsel Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum reiterated the cable provider's view that it had the rights to show its cable shows "without artificial limits" on which kind of screens it might be. Viacom once again rejected the notion and claimed that TWC had just "blatantly grabbed" rights without bothering to negotiate like others.
TWC tried to lean on popularity as an argument and noted that there had been 360,000 downloads of the app so far.
A declaratory judgment could set a legal precedent that would likely be the real goal. TWCable TV has been under challenge from Discovery, Fox, and other providers that have led TWC to pull some channels from its iPad app. With a court case as an example, it could make them allow iPad streaming if they stay on the cable TV service in most any form.
The legal rights aren't as clear for TWC. It requires that users be on a TWC Internet connection with Wi-Fi to get access, but the decision to use the Internet for the actual source has triggered much of the alarm. Cablevision has bypassed much of this by talking directly to the cable network, but it has encountered opposition of its own from a cable channel hoping to discourage competition with its own online streaming.