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Company Ordered To Stop Online Streaming Of TV Programming

February 23, 2011

A federal court has ordered Seattle-based ivi Inc. — an online cable company — to stop distributing broadcast signals over the Internet, a major victory for television broadcasters fighting to stop theft of copyright-protected signals.

The US District Court in New York issued a preliminary injunction against ivi on Tuesday prohibiting the company from streaming copyrighted material online.

Ivi took over-the-air broadcast signals from TV stations in Seattle, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and streamed them to subscribers who have downloaded its ivi TV player, which costs $4.99 a month.

Broadcast networks, local TV stations, public broadcasters, movie studios and Major League Baseball are suing the online cable company for copyright infringement.

Ivi said it will comply with the ruling while it appeals the court’s decision.

“The oppressive big media networks must open their doors to innovators or they will inevitably fall,” Ivi told The Associated Press in a statement. “People want responsible choice, not the one-size-fits-all television offerings imposed by powerful media interests.”

Ivi argued in court that it is entitled to the same rights to distribute broadcast programming that federal copyright law automatically grants cable TV operators.

The District Court rejected that reasoning on Tuesday, concluding that ivi does not qualify as a cable system.

The National Association of Broadcasters said it welcomed the decision.
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