Sep 24

Written by:
9/24/2010 11:07 AM  RssIcon

No one in the television industry heard of ivi TV last week. Now it’s all over the trades. The Seattle TV hijacker made a big deal out of offering network TV shows on the Internet for $4.99 a month. Except for ivi forgot to negotiate rights for network TV shows.

ivi CEO Todd Weaver told
GigaOm’s Janko Roettgers last week he expected “a typical knee-jerk reaction from the industry.” Weaver’s prediction was not far afield. Folks are prickly about theft. It’s what’s otherwise known as “illegal.”

But Weaver doesn’t believe he’s stealing. He believes that paying semi-annual fees to the U.S. Copyright Office is sufficient because he considers ivi a type of cable system. Five broadcast networks, along with Major League Baseball, a movie studio, two public TV stations and Fisher Communications begged to differ and presented ivi with cease-and-desist letters. What they got in return was an act of hubris so blatant as to rival a North Korean Elvis impersonator, only in a cooler and more digital way.

Weaver, et al, sued the content providers in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday. The company has since exploded into a public relations Hasbro action figure.

NEWS FLASH: (PR Flackwire) Tiny, Ragtag Band of Coders Face Off With Evil Giant Broadcasters!

“ivi, Inc., remains steadfastly on the side of the consumer, refusing to allow big media to limit consumers’ choice or its technology,” said the little company that could steal.

Trades picked up ivi’s maneuver and spread it far and wide because we’ve got quotas and the Internet, together which create a giant, gaping chasm demanding to be filled with news or something like it. And who doesn’t love a man-bites-dog story? Who in their right mind sues Disney, News Corp., General Electric, Tribune and the MLB--simultaneously? They collectively have enough lawyers to spontaneously restart the human race on another planet.

The folks at ivi clearly weren’t in the orchestra section when News Corp. lawyers single-handedly dictated the TV station ownership cap in Washington, D.C. They’ve obviously not paid a speck of attention to the way network barristers flog federal attorneys over everything from expletives to asset portfolios.

As if the flood of press coverage over ivi’s lawsuit weren’t enough, the National Association of Broadcasters issued a statement about it. “Go away,” it sort of said. “We’ve seen the likes of you before.”

To which ivi’s flack, Hal Bringman, responded, “No, you have not! For we are here to defend the people from your evil tyranny!”

Bringman, whom the White House should hire yesterday, actually brought out the iWord: “We believe the copyright claims are unsubstantiated and are really just camouflage for trying to stifle
innovation and competition.”

Nothing, but nothing, is considered more backward, Luddite and indefensible in certain corners of Washington than being perceived as stifling innovation, thanks to Google, Apple and a score of other giant tech companies with powerful lobbies. The recording industry hasn’t helped matters by suing a cheerleader for sharing songs. Neither has Washington helped matters by waffling between the platform and content lobbies. Neither has the tech industry helped by resisting the provision of reliable content protection schemes that allow creators to elect whether or not their material is shared.

As clever and fashionable as it is to accuse “big media” of “trying to stifle innovation,” it’s just baloney. NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, et al, have done nothing to stop ivi from bringing its software to the market. ivi, like every other TV platform, is free to negotiate and cut deals, or to generate content of its own. It’s free to “compete” with other video players to be licensed by a big media company.

What it should not be allowed to do, is steal. The TV landscape is vulgar enough as it is. If ivi is allowed to filch “NCIS,” “House,” “Bones,” “Criminal Minds,” and other top network shows, TV will be left with “Dancing with Dirtbags from Joe’s Topless Truck Stop.”

Depends on what you consider “innovative,” I guess.


4 comment(s) so far...


McAdams On: Guerilla PR-Steal and Sue the Owner

I am so tired of idiot Broadcasters. At the dawn of the cable industry, they fought for must carry. Now they try to rape cable operators who are forced to pay them way too much for content they are forced to carry. Now they try to stop people from simply delivering their precious content to more viewers. I agree with the previous poster. Charge the consumer for your content like HBO does and watch your audience dry up. Broadcast only has an audience because it's free.

By on   9/25/2010 3:40 PM

McAdams On: Guerilla PR-Steal and Sue the Owner

If it's being broadcast on the air free to the public and not encrypted then anyone can pretty much do whatever they please with it. If you don't want someone to use your signal then by all means go ahead and scramble it and charge for viewing. Otherwise shut up and be thankful that there are services like this which are providing you with MORE VIEWERS NOT LESS!!!

By on   9/24/2010 1:12 PM

McAdams On: Guerilla PR-Steal and Sue the Owner

When radio broadcasting first appeared, they tried to sue it out of existence - it was going to kill record sales. That is until it was discovered that radio was actually the perfect advertising medium that made them sell *more* records. Tape recorders (and later cassettes) were received with the same amount of enthusiasm: they tried to sue them out of existence. Everyone was going to use them to copy their records and they'd go out of business. Until they started selling pre-recorded tapes themselves, and discovered that there was money in that too. Video recording was also a target for a while, movie theaters were going to sit empty because of that invention. That was before it was discovered there was a market for VHS movies. And guess what? The movie theaters still weren't as empty as they had feared. Repeat with DVD's. Today their dream is to shut down this internet. What exactly is ivi TV doing anyway? Adding a couple thousand viewers to your program? Maybe even a couple HUNDRED thousand. If it catches on it could easily add millions of viewers. So what's so bad about that? The way I see you you should be praising ivi for going where no one else has had the guts to go. You should be trying to work with these people rather than trying to crush them! Oh I see. Their charging $5 and the producers want their cut! About the only thing that would make them happy is if they could figure out a way to collect 5 quarters on every dollar! The broadcasters are taking a program and broadcasting it FREE to anyone that can receive it. Once it leaves the tower you have NO CONTROL over what is done with your signal! If you want to control who can do what and who can watch then start scrambling your broadcasts and charge for it. We'll see what happens to your advertising revenues when that happens!!!

By Fliellaaccigo on   9/24/2010 2:49 PM

McAdams On: Guerilla PR-Steal and Sue the Owner

Grest editorial!!! I'm still laughing. ivi got exactly what they wanted: plenty of free press to jumpstart their company by copywrong, not copyright... Bringman can now really make money by going straight and licensing the exclusive right to produce and distribute “Dancing with Dirtbags from Joe’s Topless Truck Stop.” There is seemingly an ever growing market for that type of material.

By on   9/24/2010 3:19 PM

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