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Poison Ivi: Judge Shuts Down ivi, the Internet TV Service That Says It Can Rebroadcast TV Signals by Just Paying About $100 a Year

Feb 22, 2011  •  Post A Comment

"A federal judge in New York ordered Internet TV service Ivi to shut down Tuesday, finding that it violated the copyrights of a group of broadcasters and Major League Baseball," according to the Los Angeles Times’ Technology blog.

According to the article, "Ivi argued that it was a cable system entitled to carry broadcast signals, but also that it was an Internet service and so immune from FCC regulation. As such, it argued that it could retransmit stations online while paying royalties — about $100 a year, according to U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald’s ruling. Major League Baseball and two dozen broadcasters and studios (including two arms of the Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times) sued, arguing that Internet-based services aren’t cable systems and as such are not entitled to an automatic (or "compulsory") retransmission license."

Explaining the Ivi service, the article says, "Ivi TV captured the broadcasts of 55 stations in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and New York, then retransmitted them through the Internet to subscribers for a fee of just under $5 a month. For an additional 99 cents a month, viewers could pause, rewind and fast-forward shows, although they could not record them for later viewing."

Judge Buchwald said in her ruling, according to the article, "Congress legislated with an understanding that the cable systems it was granting a compulsory license to would also be subject to the regulations of the FCC…. [N]o company or technology which refuses to abide by the rules of the FCC has ever been deemed a cable system for purposes of the Copyright Act. Significantly, companies such as AT&T U-Verse, which claim to operate outside of the jurisdiction of the Communications Act, still comply with these rules, most significantly by obtaining retransmission consent.

"As plaintiffs argue, defendants’ view of Section 111 essentially means that anyone with a computer, Internet connection, and TV antenna can become a ‘cable system’ for purposes of Section 111. It cannot be seriously argued that this is what Congress intended."

For its part, Ivi CEO Todd Weaver said in a statement–according to the article–that "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 the all the commisioner’s offices of the FCC repeatedly and has received assurances that we are in full and complete compliance. 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."

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