Appellate court withers ivi streaming claim

Broadcasters were delighted when ivi Inc., which streamed broadcast television programming live and for-profit over the Internet without consent, got slapped down by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld an order from a lower court in New York barring the firm’s actions.  The company had claimed that it qualified as a cable system under §111 of the Copyright Act and argued it could circumvent broadcasters’  exclusive rights to authorize public display of their protected content under a statutory exception allowing cable systems to retransmit signals of copyrighted programs to subscribers provided that they paid a royalty fee of roughly $100 a year. At issue in the Aug. 27 ruling by Judge Denny Chin was whether ivi, Inc. could be considered a cable system under §111 of the Copyright Act, so it could defend itself against these claims of copyright infringement and qualify for a compulsory license.  A two-prong test to determine if an Internet service could be considered a cable system was used in Chevron USA, Inc.  v. Natural Res. Def. Council Inc.  First, the court looks to see if the the statutory text of §111 is ambiguous, and if it were, a court then reviews legislative history in context.  The Second Circuit found the statutory text ambiguous, and through review of  legislative history, determined the measure was intended to support local rather than nationwide systems. The judge noted, “Congress has not codified a statutory provision for Internet retransmissions, nor has...

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