Appeals court affirms injunction halting ivi TV streaming

On Aug. 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court decision to grant a preliminary injunction barring ivi from streaming copyrighted TV programming live via the Internet.

The injunction, issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was granted because the court determined ivi was not a “cable system” under the Copyright Act of 1976.

A large number of local and network TV broadcasters, content producers, film companies and other producers and owners of copyrighted TV programming sued ivi for streaming their content live on the Internet without permission.

The U.S. appeals court agreed with the district court that ivi was not a cable system entitles to a compulsory license and that the plaintiffs “would suffer irreparable harm” without the injunction. It also concurred that “the balance of hardships” favored granting the injunction and that doing so “did not disserve the public interest.”

In September 2010 ivi began retransmitting signals via the Internet from 30 New York and Seattle TV stations. By February of the next year it added stations from Chicago and Los Angeles. In the first five months of service, ivi streamed some 4000 programs belonging to the plaintiffs in the case. To receive the service, subscribers paid a subscription fee of $4.99 per month. For another dollar, subscribers were allowed to record, pause, fast forward and rewind programming streamed by ivi.

The court of appeals found the district court acted properly in granting the injunction.

In a statement released after the decision, NAB executive VP of Communications Dennis Wharton said the court “confirms that Congress never intended to allow Internet providers to retransmit broadcast programming without the consent of copyright owners.”