Ivi sues TV networks before the networks sue ivi

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Ivi TV has decided to get its retaliation in first, and is suing several major broadcasters to assert its right to broadcast their content without formal agreements.

Since launching last week, ivi has received several cease and desist  letters from big media copyright conglomerates, including NBC-Universal, CBS, Disney, ABC, The CW Television Stations, Fox Television, Major League Baseball, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, WGBH, WNET.org, and Fisher Communications.

But it's now filed a suit in Seattle district court asking for a declaratory judgement that it isn't infringing copyright law. Indeed, says the company, it's working in the networks' best interests, by giving them another outlet for their content.

The ivi app offers live television feeds to a user's PC from some of the biggest TV networks. It costs just $4.99, and gives access to over 20 channels. But ivi insists that because it's an online-only outfit, it's not governed by the FCC, and therefore doesn't have to pay fees for retransmission, only royalties through the Copyright Office. 

"Ivi is not another Pirate Bay or Napster trying to gain from others’ works. Rather, ivi wishes to work with content owners in helping them to realize new revenue streams and reach more viewers from around the globe," said Todd Weaver, ivi founder and CEO. 

While the company does admit that its service is 'disruptive to existing cable offerings', it claims its activities are entirely legal.

"By partnering with ivi, we provide channels secure distribution, while providing consumers affordability and choice.  A cable channel like HBO, for example, could easily have a channel on ivi TV where they set the a la carte price at $7.99 per month, knowing their content is fully protected through our system, and that only ivi subscribers who have paid for the HBO subscription will be able to view the HBO channel. Everyone wins," said Weaver.

"We remain receptive to formal partnerships with broadcast networks and are discussing carriage rights for premium cable, international, and a la carte channels."