Federal Court Shuts Down Company for Streaming ‘Stolen’ TV Shows

Preliminary injunction issued against Ivi TV; site shuts down service, but vows to appeal

Last Updated: February 22, 2011 @ 2:17 PM

A federal court has granted a preliminary injunction against Ivi Inc., preventing the Seattle company from streaming copyrighted television programming to subscribers of its ivi.tv site.

The ruling in the case — brought against Ivi by dozens of broadcasters, including CBS, NBC, Fox and Major League Baseball — was made in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday.

In granting the injunction, the court said Ivi should not “be allowed to continue to steal plaintiffs' programming for personal gain.”

Ivi — which charged subscribers a $4.99 monthly fee to stream programming from broadcasters in 55 U.S. markets — argued that as an Internet company, it is not governed by F.C.C. copyright rules and did not need to agreements with copyright holders to do so.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said that without retransmission consent, Ivi cannot continue to operate.

“No 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,” Buchwald ruled. “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.”

Ivi shut down its site on Tuesday after the court ruling, but vowed to appeal.

“We will be appealing the decision in the second circuit but in the interim we must shut-down most of our broadcast channel offerings,” the company said in a statement posted on its site. “We believe the court made an error in the ruling and will be appealing the decision supported by many public interest groups.”