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.