The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certiorari in two cases with entertainment law significance: the ivi streaming case from the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit and the Thomas-Rasset illegal music downloading case out of the Eighth Circuit. The ivi case concerns Internet streaming of broadcast television (discussed here and here before), while Thomas-Rasset involves illegal music-download damages, similar to the now-infamous Joel Tannenbaum case (discussed here).
The high court’s decision on Monday to decline the ivi case leaves in place the Second Circuit’s injunction against the firm’s service allowing subscribers to stream free, over-the-air broadcast television programming via the net. Although the justices’ refusal generally favors broadcasters in the net-streaming saga, it probably does little to impact appeals in Aereo (Second Circuit) and Aereokiller (Ninth Circuit). Those cases tackle whether such streaming services violate the broadcaster copyright owners’ Section 106 (by way of Section 101) public performance rights; ivi, on the other hand, focused on whether that firm qualified as a “cable system” to opt in to a compulsory license pursuant to Section 111 of the Copyright Act. Despite the differences, refusing to hear ivi‘s case could indicate a disinterest for now by the court to take on the streaming issue at all.
Justices also declined an appeal by Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a Minnesotan hit with $220,000 in damages for music she illegally downloaded. She has claimed that she cannot afford to pay damages levied against her and affirmed by the Eighth Circuit. She, perhaps, might have taken the course that many others hit with illegal downloading claims followed and settled with the Recording Industry Association of America: She rejected an initial $5,000 settlement offer, then a $25,000 charitable contribution after the second trial. Her attorney asserts her case may still have life, pending a positive decision in Tannenbaum’s First Circuit case.