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Second Circuit rules that a TV-streaming company does not qualify as a “cable system” under the Copyright Act

Yesterday in WPIX v. ivi, the Second Circuit affirmed a preliminary injunction against ivi, Inc. and its CEO, prohibiting them from re-transmitting copyrighted cable TV programs.

ivi itself began the litigation. After receiving cease-and-desist letters, ivi filed suit in federal court in the Western District of Washington seeking declaratory relief. A week later, WPIX filed suit in New York; the Washington action was dismissed. ivi, Inc. v. Fisher Commc’ns, Inc., No. C10-1512JLR, 2011 WL 197419 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 19, 2011).

ivi’s defense relied almost entirely on § 111 of the Copyright Act. That section is an exception to the traditional rule that a copyright owner has exclusive broadcast rights. Section 111 permits a “cable system” to publicly transmit signals of copyrighted television programming to its subscribers, provided they pay royalties at government-regulated rates and abide by the statute’s procedures. ivi lost at the district court—which issued the injunction—and appealed. Read the rest of this entry

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