Published by LawTechie - February 3, 2011 - LawTechie

An interesting legal battle over digital rights in television programming may lead to updates in the interpretation of the federal Copyright Act which provides a compulsory license for retransmission of television programming by “cable systems.” iviTV, an internet-based video distributor that streams television programming has been sued by various television broadcasters and content providers for copyright infringement.

In response, iviTV argues that its retransmission of television programming via internet is sanctioned by the Copyright Act’s compulsory license provision which allows cable system providers to rebroadcast television programs via internet in return for a license fee which it pays to broadcasters and content providers.

The Daily Examiner reports:

[T]he broadcasters who are suing say that ivi is interpreting the copyright law too broadly and that the provision it is relying on applies only to “cable systems.”

Of course, that argument raises the question of how to define cable systems.

ivi says that the definition “was intended to be very broad and to anticipate new technologies that might be used as a means of transmission.”

The broadcasters counter that ivi’s view means that “anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and a TV antenna can become a ‘cable system’ entitled to compulsory licensing.”

Digital rights groups are backing iviTV’s interpretation, reasoning that healthy competition helps “create demand for high-speed Web access, which in turn gives Internet service providers more incentives to expand broadband to those areas that still lack the service.”

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.

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