A US TV company that recently launched a new IP TV service in Australia, that allows TV watchers to watch prime time US shows prior to them going to air on free to air TV networks in Australia has moved to sue several major studios and TV stations who are objecting to their new service.
ivi TV’s controversial strategy has already caught the attention of TV stations in Australia however no one is prepared to comment until they have sought legal advice.
In an unusual move, the Seattle based company who is currently retransmitting live US TV broadcasts without paying fees has moved to sue NBC Universal, CBS, Disney/ABC, Fox the CW, WGBH Boston, and Major League Baseball among others over its right to air their programming without a formal agreement.
In a legal action filed in the Seattle district court, ivi is seeking declaratory judgment that it is not violating U.S. copyright laws. The company is also seeking payment of their fees.
The cheeky move, based on a belief that the company is not breaking any Copyright laws around the world including Australia, as all they are doing is providing a means by which consumers can watch TV, is set to be challenged, said several movie companies.
The company claims that their service is not governed by the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulations and that consequently they do not have to pay retransmission fees in the way that a US cable network does.
Under their current offering, ivi TV allows Australian viewers live access to more than 20 US and channels for just A$5.36.
“This is not like Napster. We are conforming to the letter of the law,” company founder Todd Weaver said.
“It would be ideal if they could see that this is the future and would embrace the future rather than fight against it, but we fully expected this kind of knee jerk reaction.” He added.
During a recent conversation with SmartHouse, representatives for the company admitted that they had already received cease and desist letters from most of the major networks.
“We have gone to great lengths to protect copyright,” Weaver said. “We’re offering networks a chance to monetise their content.”
Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters told several US media organisations “It is blatantly illegal to steal broadcasters’ copyrighted works and signals. We strongly support the actions taken by broadcasters to combat copyright abuse,” .