Ivi Defends Its Online TV Service


Ivi TV says its online TV station streaming service is legal, but that a New York court should not pass judgment one way or the other, but instead transfer the case to a Seattle court.

That came in a filing in a U.S District Court in New York Friday.

Ivi (pronounced "ivy") was responding to a petition by major broadcast groups/studios, station owners, and Major League Baseball asking the court to pull the plug -- either through a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction -- on ivi's streaming of TV station signals online, arguing that it is illegal copyright infringement.

"The Copyright Act expressly and unmistakably allows companies like ivi to make secondary transmissions of over-the-air broadcasts without the express consent of the Media Companies," said the streamer in its response to the petition.

Ivi also wants the New York court to transfer the case to Seattle, where it is based and where the court is currently considering ivi's request for a declaratory ruling that its service does not nfringe copyright.

Ivi argues that 1) section 111 of the 1976 Copyright Act allows cable systems to retransmit broadcasts, 2) that it is a cable system, 3) that it is entitled to a statutory license and pays the Copyright Office per that license.

It also argues that since it delivers its signal over the Internet, and the Federal Communications Commission does not regulate the Internet, it is not subject to the agency's retransmission-consent rules.

Ivi says that to grant a restraining order or injunction, there has to be a showing of harm and a balancing of the harm to the media of not granting the injunction/order versus the harm to ivi if either is granted.

Ivi argues that, quite simply, either would put them out of business, and that it would not be in the public's interest in any event since it is providing an inexpensive, live television service to the consuming public.

By contrast, it argues, ivi is too small to be able to "destroy" the value of the media companies' content or lead to a significant loss in their advertising. It argues its system is secure from pirates.

"There is no irreparable harm whatsoever," ivi argues. "Every asserted harm is remote and speculative, and none is real or imminent. Each so-called harm is also the same that the Media Companies would experience as a result of any company exercising its right to take a statutory license."

"In sum, if Big Media does not like the law as it exists, they should go to the Congress, where we have no doubt their millions of dollars of contributions and high paid lobbyists will work to attempt to change the law so that they can continue to soak the consumer and limit technology innovation," said ivi Chairman Ron Erickson.

"This is a company that's simply stealing our broadcast signals and copyrighted programming and streaming them on the Internet without permission," the broadcasters had argued in asking for the injunctions or order.

The plaintiffs include CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Disney, Cox, WPIX, and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.

They argue that the Sept. 13 launch of ivi, which coincided with the launch of the fall season, "misappropriated some of the most important content [on the stations] at a critical time of the year."