Web cable firm ivi TV announcing content deals 'soon'

Fresh off a busy schedule at CTAM Summit that it says lead to several content deals, self-described web-based cable operator ivi TV told a U.S. District Court in New York that its retransmission of broadcast content over the web is legal. The company said, "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."

Ivi, responding to a petition by a group of broadcasters, station owners and Major League Baseball, also asked the court to transfer the case to Seattle, where it has filed its own request for a declaratory ruling that it's not infringing on the broadcasters' or content owners' copyrights.

The Seattle-based company argues that under Section 111 of the 1976 Copyright Act, it's a cable system and is allowed to retransmit television broadcasts. The statute, it argues, entitles it to a statutory license adding that under the statutory scheme it pays the Copyright Office, which, in turn, pays the content owners.

Ivi also contends that since the FCC doesn't regulate the Internet, its retransmission of television broadcast over the Internet is permissible.

"If Big Media does not like the law as it exists today, 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 the technological innovation, which is critical to our economy," ivi TV CEO Todd Weaver said.

Weaver said ivi attended the cable industry's CTAM Summit last week in New Orleans where it met with a number of content providers who received it favorably, enough so that it signed, "some soon-to-be-announced content deals, and executed many NDA to discuss potential deals."

"It is ironic that within hours of returning from a successful CTAM Summit... we now find ourselves filing this legal brief in response to Big Media copyright conglomerates misguided legal tantrums trying to stifle the pace of innovation," he said.

Weaver reiterated his company's belief that it's operating lawfully and said he believes "history will repeat itself."

"Just as they did for cable and satellite before us, Congress will enact a third compulsory licensing scheme to cover Internet television delivery," he said. "In the meantime, as one MSO executive we met with at CTAM put it, 'You guys are very quickly establishing yourselves as a new distribution platform that isn't going away.'"

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