As Expected, MPAA Sues Movie Streaming Site That Uses Connected DVD Players

from the who-didn't-see-that-coming dept

When Zediva launched, we already knew it was going to face a legal fight from the MPAA and the movie studios. The company lets people stream movies they want to see, but tries to get around the legal licensing issues by only streaming directly from internet connected DVD players, playing legitimately acquired DVDs. Their argument is that it's really no different than renting a movie and bringing it to your own DVD player. And, perhaps, the Cablevision ruling in the US on remote DVRs gives them some support for their position. But, there was no way the industry was going to just let this go by without any sort of fight. And, so, the MPAA has now sued the company claiming that it's a "sham," and that Zediva is running an illegal video-on-demand service without the proper licenses. In some ways, this case could also impact the attempts by cloud music players to stream legitimate content without a license as well.

All of these situations -- the remote DVR, the remote DVD and cloud music players -- all involve the entertainment industry demanding extra payments for how you use legitimately purchased content. It's really quite amazing what a stunning sense of entitlement the entertainment industry has here. Even if you've legitimately purchased their content, they want to limit what you can actually do with it unless you pay another licensing fee. It's really quite ridiculous and shows the level of desperation these firms are reaching.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 2:32am

    I'm still amazed to see those morons really expecting to establish pay-per-use. Ain't gonna happen.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 2:37am

    So if I bought a DVD, and a friend of mine paid me $5 to let him borrow it for a week, it'd be illegal because I didn't have a license?
    I guess the MPAA is trying to expand the old "lease instead of buying" bit from the digital world to the real world. You no longer own your DVDs...

     

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      Michael, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 4:57am

      Re:

      That's not what they are saying.

      You can rent the physical DVD to your friend. So far, the MPAA has not tried to say otherwise. What they are saying is that you cannot make the movie available on the internet and stream it to others without a license. I think that is crazy, but let's go with it for a minute.

      Zediva worked around that by using physical DVD players connected to servers so when someone was streaming, they were streaming the playing DVD. Basically, they made the cable between your TV or computer and the DVD player infinitely long and connected it to a DVD player with a mechanical library of DVD's.

      The whole thing is a crazy mechanical Rube Goldberg contraption to do something that should be really easy to do with digital files. In the end, it should serve as an example of why these laws and licenses make no sense anymore.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 6:30am

        Re: Re:

        Hmmm...that means I can ignore those warnings in the DVD that says I will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and persecuted by the FBI if I rent the movie to someone?

         

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          Rich, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 9:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Those message have ALWAYS been bogus. It has always been perfectly legal to rent your DVDs to anyone.

           

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          Ron Rezendes (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 10:06am

          Don't ignore them all...

          Lastly, here’s an alternative warning found with the movie Fight Club:

          WARNING
          If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think everything you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned……


          (source: )

           

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 2:42am

    Dammit Mike!!!!

    You posting that article made me think about all my DVDs and I'm not at home. I guess I owe a gazillion pounds in streaming licensing fees now... It's all your fault Mike! I'm sending you the bill when it comes....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 2:44am

    I dont understand how this could possibly be a viable business model from Zedivas point of view. Subscribers might cover... the power to run the dvd players, which there have to be enough of for multiple people to watch the same thing at once, as well as whatever back catalog they have. Ads might cover the disks, a little more if they are raiding walmarts $5 bin. I cant see this working at all except with a small rotating list of movies, and I certainly wouldnt pay for that.

     

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      Christopher (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 2:54am

      Re:

      You are not living in the real world then. There are many companies that have said that if the courts would get off their asses and realize that if you have bought something, you own it, that they could make a model like this work.

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:15am

        Re: Re:

        I think he is saying, he doesn't think it will work financially. I thought the same thing until I priced the hardware out. Then realized its actually a viable business model. Internal DVD players cost less than $14 USD in bulk. Total cost to build 8 unit DVD players about $400 USD. Total cost per disk with networking and is around $100 USD. Even if you have a DVD drive per customer it make sense financially.

        One interesting thing of note is if http://www.zediva.com/ wins legally, it opens the flood gates to some really cool apps and business models. Imagine people sharing DVD's in a vast distributed online library. It also has the potential to wipe out Netflix and most video on demand services.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If Zediva wins, it won't wipe out Netflix. I'm sure Netflix is watching this and hoping Zediva wins. They already have the infrastructure to stream movies, and they already have a whole bunch of DVDs they could stream this way. They will simply get to stop paying USPS to ship plastic around and start doing all streaming, and try to get out of the streaming agreements they have already signed which are costing them millions.

           

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            Hephaestus (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 6:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "If Zediva wins, it won't wipe out Netflix. I'm sure Netflix is watching this and hoping Zediva wins."

            Actually, I think netflix probably doesn't want Zediva to win. It opens up the door to everyone and their mother streaming video of DVD's they own. It also opens up the possiblity for an open source app for people to share one or more CD's or DVD's. Imagine 20 million people doing this and "lending" CD's and DVD's to others, all indexed and cataloged. It would wipe out all VOD services.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

           

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      Michael, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 5:04am

      Re:

      Video rental companies have been able to be profitable (well, ignore Blockbuster's performance lately) for a long time. This business model takes away the physical stores - which are a lot of overhead - and replaces that overhead with that of servers, DVD players, and some kind of huge mechanical jukebox for the DVD's.

      I'm not sure what they are using, but it seems reasonable to me to think that their solution can easily be less costly than the lease, electricity, and payroll of a traditional brick-and-mortar movie rental store.

      The stupidity of all of this is that it could be done for a fraction of the price with digital files and that savings could be split between the customers, Zediva, AND THE MOVIE STUDIOS and everyone would be better off.

      Those brainless #$%@#$s.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 4:05am

    Hey, another business model that results in the creation of zero new movies.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 4:19am

      Re:

      Hey, another license restriction that results in the creation of zero new movies.

      Pathetic. Troll harder paytard.

       

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      Planespotter (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 5:15am

      Re:

      Whose business model? the Movie Industry part attached to the MPAA or Zediva?

      I get it if you mean the MPAA / Movie Industry as they are spending money on legal teams that should be being spent on new innovative business models for their customers, but for Zediva they are only a dvd rental store and have paid the same costs as your local Blockbuster to rent movies to its customers.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 6:34am

      Re:

      How so? they pay for the DVD just like a rental store would and then lease it out to customers. It is no different then a video rental place.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 4:32am

    The studios must be freaking out, this basically puts in jeopardy the real juice part of their business which is licensing to different companies and regions, there are some things they will battle to the bitter end and this is one of them along with global access which means they can't charge each region separately they have to charge everyone equally.

    Unfortunately, very, very soon people will be able to stream anything to anywhere without the need to pay anything to anyone, then I want to see what those people will use as an argument to say people can't do it despite the fact that it is legal and people will do it on their own, with something they supposedly paid for.

    I see a future full of pirates everywhere, you just can't scape that label, copyrights will manage to turn the entire population of earth into outlaws and that is priceless.

     

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    jimbo, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 4:39am

    so what is the difference between this and games console manufacturers, like eg Sony? you purchase something, but it seems it is still not yours. apparently, you have only rented the item and/or the license. once anything is bought, it should be the buyers choice what it is used for. if any changes are made to that item, it may well invalidate the guarantee but that should also be the buyers choice to do so. ford dont tell me i cant increase the performance of my car if i want to. it simply says if i make any unauthorized changes, the guarantee is void. fair enough.

     

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      Richard (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 5:11am

      Re: Rental

      If you rented the thing then they own it - and are responsible for disposal/recycling when you no longer wish to use it. I wonder if those costs are built into their business model.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 6:23am

    Being sued isn't necessarily a bad thing. Lawsuit = Caselaw = Clarity. I'm rooting for Zediva, but I'm not up to speed on the relevant caselaw to have an educated opinion about their chances. This does remind me of that case from the 80's with the video store that had private viewing rooms where you could watch VHS videos that you had rented. I believe that case hinged on whether or not it was a public performance. Since the video store was open to the public, it was a public performance. But is Zediva? Being in your home is certainly private. I believe there was another case where a hotel rented movies to people's rooms in much the same way, and that was ruled to be OK, since the hotel room was more private. I dunno, and I'd have to do more research, but it seems to me that this is one of those things where it's not really clear either way. The lawsuit will give Zediva some clarity. I hope they pull through. I'm on their waiting list to be a member. :)

     

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      Michael, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:12am

      Re:

      "Being sued isn't necessarily a bad thing"

      Unless you call spending needless time and money on defending yourself "something".

      Zediva is a small startup that is now defending itself against an opponent with virtually endless legal and financial resources. The MPAA does not need to win a lawsuit to "win", they need to bankrupt Zediva or force them into a settlement - and that can easily happen even if Zediva is on completely solid ground - and some crazy rulings say they are not (I think they SHOULD be).

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:26am

        Re: Re:

        Zediva knew they were going to get sued. I'm sure they have money set aside for this. I look forward to the issues being litigated so we can get some answers.

         

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    Michial Thompson, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 6:30am

    Missleading again little mikee

    little mikee;

    You are again misleading people into your viewpoint. The problem here is that this company is NOT streaming One DVD to ONE viewer. They are streaming the SAME DVD to multiple viewers at the same time. They are also likely CACHING the DVD for streaming as well.

    It is NOT the same as RENTING. If you RENT a DVD then it leaves someones possession, goes to yours, you watch it and return it. There is a LONG time where the owner is without the DVD and must buy additional DVDs to keep renting to multiple people at the same time.

     

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      Tek'a R (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:08am

      Re: Missleading again little mikee

      {citation needed} Re:

      *streaming to multiple unauthorized viewers
      *caching for streaming


      And aside from your fast and loose use of words like "misleading", what is your totally-non-shill-and-honest opinion about the insane hurdles that the MPAA would like to keep in place?

       

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      Michael, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:16am

      Re: Missleading again little mikee

      "They are streaming the SAME DVD to multiple viewers at the same time"

      Where did you get that? Everything I have read from the company suggests otherwise. (Not that I expect a shill like you to actually cite a source)


      "They are also likely CACHING the DVD for streaming as well"

      According to the legal ruling about the Google cache, caching is not copying. In fact, if it is, every time someone plays a DVD in their computer, they have violated copyright.

       

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      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:41am

      Re: Missleading again little mikee

      They are streaming the SAME DVD to multiple viewers at the same time.

      Proof or STFU.

      They are also likely CACHING the DVD for streaming as well.

      Not illegal.

      It is NOT the same as RENTING. If you RENT a DVD then it leaves someones possession, goes to yours, you watch it and return it. There is a LONG time where the owner is without the DVD and must buy additional DVDs to keep renting to multiple people at the same time.

      All this conjecture depends entirely on whether Zediva is allowing multiple people access to the same DVD at the same time. Again, proof or STFU.

       

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:45am

      Re: Missleading again little mikee

      They are streaming the SAME DVD to multiple viewers at the same time.

      That's certainly possible, but what evidence do you have of this?

       

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      Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 8:26am

      Re: Missleading again little mikee

      There's a standard internet acronym for "Too Long; Didn't Read". Perhaps there should be one for something akin to "Obvious Ad Hominem; Not Worth The Effort"?
      Didn't really seem worth going past the title in this case.....

       

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      Rich, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 9:40am

      Re: Missleading again little mikee

      Absolutely wrong. It's one DVD per viewer. Your comment about renting is also wrong. When I rent a movie at a hotel, someone physically puts in a DVD or a VHS and hits play. They don't come to my room and hand me a piece of media.

       

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      Ron Rezendes (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 10:46am

      See the little paytard sitting on a fence, one theft and one is rent

      I find it absolutely humorous that a paytard such as yourself, would argue both sides of the fence and not even realize it!

      While you scream and whine about infringement being theft and those who argue against you point out how nothing physical has been stolen, you have the audacity to try and use the SAME EXACT argument to defend rentals:

      "It is NOT the same as RENTING. If you RENT a DVD then it leaves someones possession, goes to yours, you watch it and return it. There is a LONG time where the owner is without the DVD and must buy additional DVDs to keep renting to multiple people at the same time."

      Hypocrites are always wrong at least half the time.

      I hereby label you the shill-troll title of Master Shitroll!

       

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    Overcast (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    You know what's *really* needed?

    A whole new industry that does movies and then lets people use and watch them with current technology as they see fit.

    Now I'd pay for that. That might actually get me interested in watching movies again.

    but alas, this crap is getting old. I can live without Movies. I've found some serious deals at Borders with them going out of business.

    You know the more I step away from the TV, the more I realize... I don't really miss it.

     

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      Michael, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 7:20am

      Re:

      I think it is called YouTube.

      You get lots of stuff there for free and can watch it on lots of devices.

      Frankly, the stuff appearing there is of higher quality than most of what comes out of Hollywood these days.

       

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    \r, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 8:15am

    Media meet History

    I'm callin it - right now - DVDs and movie rental stores and that artificial "empty shelf" scarcity - They're fucked and they know it. Windowing will live on for a while I think so that one's too early to call. But - the DVD and the old rental model is done, smoked. Called it. Copies and images *are* all but limitless - and that, I'm afraid, is the cold, hard fact. They can either move on or mire down the court system that will force them, as they always do, to get with the times.

    Just the smallest of tweaky tweakies to their current licensing models will surely assure them of many years of continued income without reckless capital diverted to prevent their own growth.

    " Here's a current movie and television show image list with the rental fee and time limits in the right columns. Just select your image and enter the code into your television, computer, cell phone or media player to begin watching"

    DVD's are ass.

    b-bye
    \r

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 8:22am

    Every day there are articles that address these issues. Instead of just bitching about what they are doing why don't we all try to do something about it. Send your rep a note.
    http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

     

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      Rich, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 9:42am

      Re:

      Yeah, that will help. My insignificant "note" vs. the millions the corporations throw at them.

       

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        Michael, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 10:29am

        Re: Re:

        If we complain enough, I'm sure they will promise to not become lobbyists when they leave office.

         

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        TwentyTwo (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 10:45am

        Re: Re:

        This is a classic example of the 'rational voter.' The diffuse interests of the people who want to be able to use content legitimately are spread out. Only a very few have a significant financial stake in the outcome. Additionally, because there are so many people in a similar situation, it's incredibly easy to free ride on the efforts of the others.

        For the content providers, though, they have a huge financial interest. Also, because there are only a few players, the opportunity for free-riding is very small.

        This outcome is very predictable: It's very hard to get motivated to send letters like that.

         

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      Ron Rezendes (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      Sent mine to both of them, thank you for the link!

       

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    Rekrul, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    It staggers the mind to think of all the amazing things we could be enjoying today if not for the entertainment industry's greed & paranoia.

     

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    Rekrul, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 11:54pm

    Earlier today, I tried to track down a digital version of a book that I own. I went to Amazon out of curiosity, but they didn't even have the book listed, at least not the edition that I had. Even if they had it, I don't own a Kindle, so I probably couldn't buy a digital copy anyway.

    So then I tried to find an unauthorized source for it. Since it's a fairly obscure book, I didn't have much hope. Eventually I ended up on a site which claimed to have it (well, a version of it, not sure which one) and they had download links listed as TXT, PDF, etc. Ever hopeful, I clicked on the PDF link and it downloaded a zip file with the name of the book. However when I unpacked it, it was an installer for some program and a text file with instructions. Apparently you're supposed to install the program, which will then give you access to their online library. I immediately deleted it.

    I was just struck by the ridiculousness of it. They want you to jump through hoops to view a simple document file! Something that should be incredible simple is needlessly complicated by a company wanting to impose control.

    It seems like that's happening with everything today, videos, music, books, software, electronics, you name it. Everywhere you turn, things that should be easy and simple to use are being made more complex just so that a few aging companies can feel like they're still in control.

    It makes me sick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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