A federal appeals court on Monday affirmed a lower court decision from last year blocking ivi TV from streaming broadcasters' live signals on the Internet.
The Seattle-based ivi launched a service in 2010 offering packages of TV signals from broadcasters to ivi subscribers — without compensating broadcasters for the retransmissions. Ivi was charging its own customers $4.99 a month for the streaming service while refusing to pay the shows' owners.
The Big 4 TV networks and other broadcasters sued to block ivi in September 2010, after ivi argued that it was legally entitled to stream the signals because a loophole in the copyright law cleared the way for cable operators to retransmit local broadcast signals.
At the request of the networks and other broadcasters, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction against ivi early last year.
In its decision Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York upheld the injunction.
"Continued live transmissions of copyrighted television programming over the Internet without consent would ... threaten to destabilize the entire industry," the appellate court panel said in its decision.
"The public has a compelling interest in protecting copyright owners' marketable rights to their work and the economic incentive to continue creating television programming," the appeals court panel continued.
"We're gratified by the court's decision," Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, said following Monday's ruling. "This confirms that Congress never intended to allow Internet providers to retransmit broadcast programming without the consent of copyright owners."
For his part, ivi spokesman Hal Bringman countered, "This is not the final chapter of this story."
Broadcasters are also asking the New York appeals court to overturn a lower court's refusal to issue an injunction blocking Aereo, a service backed by Barry Diller that allows subscribers in New York City to access local TV signals over their computers and mobile devices.
A federal district court judge declined in July to issue an injunction in the Aereo case, but the Big 4 TV networks and other broadcasters have appealed.
Virginia Lam, an Aereo spokeswoman, declined to comment on the cases Monday.
But NAB's Wharton said, "We're confident that upon appeal Aereo will be found to be a copyright infringer."
- federal appeals court