Last updated: November 22, 2010 - 9:28am
In the latest cat-and-mouse game between media companies and technology start-ups threatening to undermine their businesses, the big networks are intensifying their fight to stop Internet services that stream TV stations online.
Owners of the major broadcast-television networks are suing in federal court two start-up companies that stream broadcast TV stations online without their consent, arguing the start-ups are infringing on their copyrights. A judge in New York has scheduled a hearing Nov 22 on the networks' request for a temporary restraining order against FilmOn.com Inc., while another case against Ivi Inc. could be heard in coming weeks.
Ivi and FilmOn, which grab free over-the-air broadcast signals and convert them to online streams, are claiming their right to distribute the networks under a provision in the U.S. Copyright Act. Seattle-based Ivi is also arguing that Ivi isn't governed by a separate communications statute that requires cable and satellite companies to negotiate licenses with content owners before transmitting their networks. Media companies disagree, arguing the fledgling companies don't qualify as "cable systems" or "passive carriers" entitled to protections in the Copyright Act.
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