Broadcasters have been trying to halt internet television service ivi.tv from using their content without consent, and noting that the broadcast companies are likely to succeed in court on the merits, the service has been ordered to cease its use of television signals.
NAB’s Dennis Wharton hailed the decision, noting that “This confirms that Congress never intended to allow Internet providers to retransmit broadcast programming without the consent of copyright owners.”
The court wrote, “We hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm without a preliminary injunction. First, ivi’s live retransmissions of plaintiffs’ copyrighted programming over the Internet would substantially diminish the value of the programming. Second, plaintiffs’ losses would be difficult to measure and monetary damages would be insufficient to remedy the harms. Third, ivi would be unable to pay damages should plaintiffs prevail.
In its discussion of the decision, the court said, among other things, that ivi.tv would have the ability to completely undermine the broadcasters it was grabbing content from by showing it in a given market before it is broadcast over the air.
According to an article in GigaOM, ivi.tv was attempting to exploit a loophole in Copyright Act be being treated as a cable system; but at the same time avoid being held to the obligations cable systems have to broadcasters under the Communications Act.
The Court determined that it was not Congress’s intent to allow a new entrant into the distribution business simply use broadcasters’ content without gaining permission.