Amazon, Netflix and major studios sue Set TV streaming service alleging ‘mass infringement’ of content

(Set TV Photo)

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

UPDATE: Streaming service sued by Amazon and Netflix is down, leaving its future uncertain

Oft-rivals Amazon and Netflix are teaming up with major movie and TV studios to go after streaming service Set TV, alleging in a lawsuit that the company is disguising piracy and “inducing mass infringement” of copyrighted material within an interface that looks just like any other online content provider.

The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Central California, and the all-star list of plaintiffs includes Amazon, Netflix, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal and Warner Bros. The defendant, Set TV aka setvnow, bills itself as a means to cut the cord from cable with more than 500 live channels and access to a big library of on-demand programming for $20 a month. The lawsuit also mentioned an $89 set-top box, but a link to it on Set TV’s website is broken.

It’s rare to see what amounts to an entire industry coming together to sue a single company. But the proliferation of third-party streaming networks and associated set-top boxes promising access to nearly endless content is making it harder to tell what is legitimate and what is piracy. In this case, the streaming services and studios allege that Set TV connects customers to unauthorized streams of live and on-demand content and disguises them as legitimate.

“For the customers who use Setvnow, the service provides hallmarks of using authorized streaming services — a user-friendly interface and reliable access to popular content — but with a notable exception: the customers only pay money to Defendants, not to Plaintiffs and other content creators upon whose copyrighted works Defendants’ business depends.”

We’ve reached out to Set TV and will update this post if we hear back.

The studios came together last year under the banner of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment in part to stop online piracy. In October, they filed what was called a “first-of-its-kind” copyright lawsuit against streaming media player maker TickBox TV, making similar allegations to the Set TV lawsuit filed today. In February, a judge issued an injunction against TickBox, ordering it to stop facilitating access to pirated material, something the company had already started doing.

The alliance released the following statement about the case: “‘Setvnow’ and other piracy software applications undermine the legal market for films and television shows, causing harm to a vibrant creative economy that supports millions of workers around the world. ACE is dedicated to protecting creators and reducing online piracy through dedicated actions against illegal enterprises like ‘Setvnow.’”

Here’s how Set TV gets its content, according to the lawsuit:

When a user selects any of the menu links above, Setvnow begins streaming the selected content from third-party sources. These sources capture live transmissions of the above-listed television channels, convert the copies of the television programs into streaming-friendly formats, and then retransmit the entirety of the live broadcasts over the Internet … For its on-demand options, Setvnow relies on third-party sources that illicitly reproduce copyrighted works and then provide streams of popular content such as movies still exclusively in theaters and television shows.

The studios are asking for an injunction to stop the allegedly pirated material from streaming. The group also argues it is entitled to “$150,000 per work infringed by virtue of Defendants’ willful, knowing, and material contribution to infringement.”

Read the full lawsuit below:

Studios v. Set TV by Nat Levy on Scribd