Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Against ivi

Broadcasters successfully defend copyright

A federal appeals court may have put the final nail in ivi's coffin. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Monday upheld a lower court's temporary injunction against the online pay TV service that was streaming over-the-air TV stations on the Internet without getting permission from the station owners.

The ruling was a sweet victory for TV station owners, which are still in legal battle with Aereo and, two services that also aim stream TV station signals over the Internet.

Broadcast owners NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, The CW, PBS, Tribune, Univision and others sued ivi in 2010 for infringing on their copyright. The U.S. District Court for the southern district of New York granted the broadcast owners' request for a preliminary injunction in 2011.

"In this case, it is undisputed that plaintiffs owned valid copyrights to the television programming that ivi publicly performed without plaintiff's consent," the court said in affirming the injunction. "ivi's actions, streaming copyrighted works without permission, would drastically change the industry, to plaintiff's detriment."

Launched in 2010, ivi retransmitted TV signals and then streamed them to subscribers who had downloaded ivi's TV player for a monthly fee of $4.99 and an additional $0.99 for DVR features. It tried to define itself as a "virtual cable system," an argument neither the courts nor the Federal Communications Commission seem to buy.

"This confirms that Congress never intended to allow Internet providers to retransmit broadcast programming without the consent of copyright owners," said Dennis Wharton, the National Association of Broadcasters' executive vp, in a statement.