David vs. Goliath: Seattle startup takes on TV giantsSeptember 24, 2010 @ 5:15 am (Updated: 1:37 pm - 3/28/11 )
Todd Weaver says history has a tendency to repeat itself.
"When cable came out, they were sued by broadcasters," he said. So Weaver wasn't going to sit back and let that happen when his internet cable company, ivi, launched last week.
It costs subscribers just $5 a month for local over-the-air channels from Seattle and New York City, with other markets to come; you can watch the Seahawks on Sundays or the evening news on KING 5 from anywhere in the world on your PC or Mac. The service is planning on adding cable channels on an a la carte basis. "We are very much the pioneers, the first to market, with an online cable system offering," Weaver said.
The trouble, Weaver said, didn't even wait a week. The company has received several cease and desist letters from broadcasters, including NBC Universal, Major League Baseball, and local station owner Fisher Communications, accusing ivi of copyright infringement.
But Weaver and his 18-person staff weren't going to sit around waiting to be sued. So, earlier this week, ivi sued the broadcasters, asking a judge to declare what the company is doing legal. Weaver says ivi is rebroadcasting content in accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act. In its court filing, ivi cites Section 111 of the Act, which provides that the "secondary transmission of an over-the-air primary transmission is not an infringement of copyrights." Tuesday, the National Association of Broadcasters fired back. "It is blatantly illegal to steal broadcasters' copyrighted works and signals," NAB president Dennis Wharton said in a statement. The legal battle is expected to take some time. In any case, Weaver claims the broadcasters should keep an open mind. "The benefit is exactly the thing they have always wanted: more eyeballs," he said.
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