Company Claims Legal Right To Stream Broadcast TV Online; Broadcasters Disagree
from the ah,-copyright-loopholes dept
That said, this does seem like a lot of hype over not very much. While the company has suggested in interviews that it intends to offer cable channels like ESPN at some point in the future, right now it only offers retransmission of broadcast network TV -- as that's all that Section 111 is designed to cover. If it wants to offer any other channel, it's either going to have to work out some sort of deal (highly unlikely) or come up with some other legal loophole (which probably won't work). The company's business model is to charge users a monthly fee to get this content -- which seems like a pretty big request, considering most people can get network broadcast TV for free. Perhaps it's appealing to Americans abroad who want to watch their local news back home, but that seems like a limited market.
Of course, the company does make the quite reasonable argument that the content it's retransmitting is available for free, they are showing all of the commercials, and they are reporting their viewers to Nielsen, so it is difficult to argue what these networks are actually losing by allowing ivi to go forward. I'm sure the TV companies' response is that it's somehow "taking" their right to try to charge for programs online via sites like Hulu, but that's not that compelling an argument. If something like a Slingbox is allowed -- where I can set up a system to retransmit the TV service I receive in my home to my internet connected device, perhaps there is an argument that a network-connected Slingbox is equally legal. To some extent, you could see a second version of the famed Cablevision lawsuit, which questioned whether or not you could set up a remote DVR. If that's legal, perhaps a remote Slingbox would also be legal... There have been a few companies that have simply set up remotely hosted Slingboxes, which resulted in some public griping, but I'm not aware of any actual lawsuits. Thus, it could be interesting to see where ivi goes with this...