Disney, CBS, Fox Sue Ivi for Streaming Shows on Web

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Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, CBS Corp. and other broadcasters sued Ivi, an online subscription service, for streaming television programs over the Web without authorization.

The companies, also including News Corp.’s Fox, General Electric Co.’s NBC and the Public Broadcasting Service, today accused Ivi and its founder Todd Weaver of copyright infringement in a federal court complaint in New York.

“Defendants have launched their infringing Internet TV service to coincide with the start of the new fall television season,” the broadcasters said in the complaint.

Ivi, based in Seattle, began streaming TV stations there and in New York 24 hours a day to Web subscribers worldwide on Sept. 13, according to the lawsuit. Viewers would pay $4.99 a month after a 30-day free trial, the complaint said. Broadcasters have deals with companies including Hulu LLC, Netflix Inc. and Apple Inc. to stream TV shows. Hulu’s owners include NBC, Fox and ABC.

On Sept. 20, Ivi and Weaver filed suit in federal court in Seattle seeking a ruling that Ivi isn’t infringing copyrights.

“Big media is choosing to fight Internet delivery the same way they fought against cable delivery and satellite delivery, when in reality it is legal to retransmit,” Weaver said in an e-mail today.

‘Big Media’

“Broadcasters charge more in advertising due to the increase in viewers,” Weaver said. “It is too bad big media must fight innovation that is legal, pays them and increases their revenue.”

The broadcasters said that after they demanded that Ivi stop streaming their stations, the company initially responded that it was “open to engaging in discussions to explore more direct contractual agreements with certain plaintiffs.” Ivi sued several days later.

Major League Baseball, Univision, Telemundo, Cox Media, Tribune Television, Fisher Broadcasting, WPIX, WGBH and WNET.org are also plaintiffs in the New York suit.

Today’s case is WPIX Inc. v. Ivi Inc., 10-7415, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The earlier case is Ivi Inc. v. Fisher Communications Inc., 10-1512, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

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