Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Ivi’s Case

Lower court injunction stands against TV streamer

Ivi, a pay TV service that was streaming over-the-air TV signals on the Internet without permission, has finally reached the end of the road in court.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied the company's petition for certiorari and refused to hear the case, letting stand the Second Circuit decision upholding an injunction against the service. 

The decision hands a satisfying victory and perhaps hopeful one to broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and other station owners that sued ivi in 2010 for copyright infringement and are faced with a similar legal challenge to Aereo, another streaming service in New York backed by Barry Diller.

Launched three years ago, ivi retransmitted TV signals and streamed them to subscribers who paid a monthly fee to downloaded ivi's TV player. Broadcasters immediately launched lawsuits against the service, claiming ivi was retransmitting signals without copyright permission. Ivi asserted that it should be defined like a cable system and pay only a compulsory copyright license, but the Federal Communications Commission refused that definition.

Broadcasters are having a tougher time shutting down Aereo because it claims to provide a personal use by renting subscribers an antenna to pick up the signals to be streamed via the Internet.

So far, Aereo has managed to ward off any court injunctions and plans to expand to 22 cities this year. From a business standpoint, that's good news for Aereo. But legally, it gives broadcasters more cities in which to sue.