The U.S. Senate is considering a measure that would make video streaming of copyrighted material a felony, legislation that will likely be closely watched by one Seattle startup. You may recall that Ivi Inc. was shut down by a federal judge in February over its live, streaming TV service.

The injunction followed a lawsuit against the company brought by some of the biggest names in broadcasting and entertainment, including NBC Universal, Disney and Major League Baseball.

Ivi continues to battle in the courts with the big media companies, providing an update on the appeal process in this blog post.

It is unclear whether the new measure, if passed by the U.S. Senate, would impact the creators of Ivi directly. But making the illegal streaming of video content a felony — punishable by up to five years in prison — certainly would give pause to most entrepreneurial concerns.

Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters, said in a statement at the time of the injunction that they were gratified by the judge’s decision to shut down Ivi.

“In granting the injunction, the court found that ivi should not ‘be allowed to continue to steal plaintiffs’ programming for personal gain until a resolution of this case on the merits’. We agree,” he said.

The measure — known as the Commercial Felony Streaming Act — has wide support in the U.S. Senate where it was introduced by Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Christopher Coons, as well as Republican John Cornyn. The Obama administration also has tossed its support behind the measure, according to Bloomberg News. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure — which would make it illegal to stream 10 or more instances of copyrighted video content in a 180 days period.

Comments

  • Guest

    I stand with ivi on this matter. Streaming video is the future and shall be encouraged, not punished. Content owners shall be compensated based on the cube root of their content’s popularity using monies collected in taxes by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This means a lot less money for Who Wants To Be A Whorish Pop Star on ABC and a lot more money for truly innovative, engaging content.

    • Guest

      Wait. Streaming vs. any other delivery mechanism is just a technology choice. That said, ivi couldn’t have tried their plan without IP streaming so let’s call it an enabler. The issue with ivi is about copyright and licensing (or lack thereof). And to play devil’s advocate, all ivi did was lift mainstream broadcast feeds, re-package them and charge for them – how does that lead to truly innovative, engaging content? you make it sound like it was an entertainment meritocracy engine. what did I miss?

      • Guest

        All of a sudden, it is now possible for anyone to be carried on the same virtual cable system as ABC, CBS, Fox News, and other channels. ivi has lain the ground work by looping in the well-known broadcast networks. Now is the time to add the independent innovators to cater to the “long tail” of television consumers.

      • Anonymous

        What is the difference between Ivi and any cable or satellite company in this country when it comes to using the locally over the air broadcast channels ?  (Ivi did NOT broadcast anything but local over the air channels).

        The only real difference that I see is that the broadcasters have managed to claim that Ivi is illegal while the cable and satellite companies aren’t.

        Heck, you couldn’t even ‘DVR’ or record in any way the stuff Ivi streamed.  It was like cable TV cira 1975.  The locals and nothing else.

        I hope this case gets resolved and that companies like Ivi can go back to streaming the locals.

        I’m tired of being ripped off every month for way too much money by Cable and Satellite for what I want to watch.

  • Eronbo

    We do not believe the bill impacts ivi in the least. Regardless, the oligarchy that controls so much of America will work hard to sustain their consumer killing legacy systems. If the owners of legacy infrastructure have their way, lots of technology entrepreneurs will do the “perp walk.”

    • Guest

      The oligarchs are already losing the battle for our eyeballs as we march them into a “Tahrir Square” located at the intersection of collaborative video and real-time engagement. Those who would not have us so enjoy content will simply be discarded, left to rust like so many despots who have been removed from power this year.

  • georgeofthejungle

    John, John, John…once again, sloppy reporting. Tisk, tisk.

  • JohnIsAnIdiot

    John, it should be a felony to be a terrible reporter. First off, this is far from law yet, it’s just proposed. Second, how would a yet-to-become law apply retroactively to an existing lawsuit. Third, if ivi wins, they are deemed legal by the courts. Fourth, if ivi loses, they are not going to start streaming again, paying royalties (as they did) or not. The companies and individuals you should have listed who might actually care about this bill would be justin.tv, ustream, youtube, and the thousands of other user-generated-content sites that stream copyrighted works under the whack-a-mole DMCA takedown policies of today.

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for the comment.  Appreciate the insights. As I mentioned in the
      piece, it is unclear whether this measure, if passed, would impact Ivi
      directly. I did not report that the measure has passed, noting that it has been proposed.

      However, if I were operating an entrepreneurial venture in this space, one which would violate the proposed legislation, I’d certainly be watching this proposal closely. That was the point I was trying to make in the piece.

      john cook

      • Anonymous

        Stop feeding them.

        you’re enabling the jerks who are wanna be reporting and grammer nazi’s…

  • JohnIsAnIdiot

    John, it should be a felony to be a terrible reporter. First off, this is far from law yet, it’s just proposed. Second, how would a yet-to-become law apply retroactively to an existing lawsuit. Third, if ivi wins, they are deemed legal by the courts. Fourth, if ivi loses, they are not going to start streaming again, paying royalties (as they did) or not. The companies and individuals you should have listed who might actually care about this bill would be justin.tv, ustream, youtube, and the thousands of other user-generated-content sites that stream copyrighted works under the whack-a-mole DMCA takedown policies of today.

  • http://twitter.com/crenelle MichaelBrianBentley

    Content stakeholders get to ok every use of copyrighted content they control that isn’t fair use. I’m fine with that. The stakeholders are exasperated by how hard it is to chase after infringers.

    Transferring the responsibility for pursuing copyright infringement cases from content stakeholders to the government by making the act criminal translates into a marginally bigger government; that’s not as big a deal as this: we already know how good the government is at enforcing law on the net: they shut stuff down indiscriminately! Thousands upon thousands of domains, web sites, servers, online businesses. If your actions weren’t illegal, no problem, just go to court and we’ll sort it all out.

    We do need better net-based venues for desirable content.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like a horrible proposed law just based on how many people it would put in jail for a tiny offense. In fact, I could probably steal the movie from a store & get a less sentence. Don’t we already have a problem with prison overpopulation? I don’t really see it getting much traction and support in the Senate.

  • michelle

    John there are many inaccuracies in your article. The law even if it was approved is aimed at clear copyright violators.
    The case against ivi is yet to be settled and its hard to say what the outcome of the appeal would be made. Even before the case there were legal experts on both sides who were not willing to bet on the outcome. The copyright section covering simultaneous retransmission of free content and the definition of what constitutes a cable company is very vague. Apparently slingboxes make the cut but virtual cable carriers do not. The fcc has been dragging there heals on this, they know very well they will have to come down on this issue eventually if not the ivi case some other one.. indeed ivi has supporters in congress.
    The broadcast industry is the last major holdout from going to a cloud based distribution model. They have money and influence which helps delay a decision, yet they will have to some day. Maybe ivi will end up being the test case maybe not.

    The judge in New York was not very technically versed on business model or the technology and made many technical mistakes. Actually she has a reputation for being very closed minded .

    She incorrectly lumped ivi in as a streaming service,much like those accessed using browsers. But its not even clear that “streaming” is correct in describing the technology. which is not even multicast but a closed “unicast” or point to point stream between a server and a client. ie. A virtual cable box, so if cable companies dropped their hardware boxes in favor of software does that mean the small cable carriers which are not affected by carriage laws now would be in violation. 

    She also described the copyright fees that ivi had been paying into to royalty pool and equally important not being rejected as being being a joke, however she failed to understood or just plain ignored the fact that the amount paid to the pool is based on a formula that takes  into account the number of subscribers , content used, geographic area etc.
    The fee paid would be consistent for ivi’s customer base at the time of reporting.

    I hope you can see that you are making light of a much complicated situation. Also I should point out that THERE are laws on the books that can punish blog site operators for posting fradulent or erroronious information potentially damaging to a legally established company.

    And that use of any company log’s or symbols without prior permission is also a copyright violation. 

  • Anonymous

    In fact, there is a illegal DMCA movie channel right now that is being supported. modded and streamed by 2 of their own admins on Justin.tv

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