MPAA Seeks Court Order Halting Zediva Streams
Escalating their battle with video site Zediva, the movie studios are asking a judge to prohibit the company from streaming movies online.
"Defendants are blatantly violating the Studios' exclusive right to publicly perform their copyrighted works," the Motion Picture Association of America said in a request for an injunction, filed Thursday in federal district court in New York. "Defendants' continuing unauthorized exploitation of the studios' works is likely to cause irreparable harm."
Zediva, which launched out of beta in March, charges users $2 to stream a movie for up to two weeks. Unlike the rental companies Netflix and Redbox, which impose a 28-day wait for new releases, Zediva offers users streams of films as soon as they hit the retail stores.
The company characterizes itself as a rental service, arguing that it buys DVDs, then only streams as many as it owns at any one time. "The only difference between watching a rented DVD on the DVD player in one's living room and watching a rented DVD using Zediva is that rather than connecting to the DVD player with a short cable, Zediva lets users connect to the DVD player over the Internet," Zediva argues in court papers.
Zediva also says that because it lawfully purchased the films, it can rent them under the "first sale" concept, which allows anyone who purchases CDs, books or movies to resell or rent them. The company says it is entitled to a ruling that the service it offers doesn't infringe the studios' copyright.
But the motion picture industry, which initially sued Zediva for copyright infringement in April, argues that the start-up isn't a rental company but a video-on-demand service that publicly performs movies. In addition, the MPAA argues, Zediva harms companies that have obtained licenses, like iTunes and Amazon, by siphoning away customers.
Copyright expert and New York Law School professor James Grimmelmann has said that Zediva faces an uphill battle in court. He said that courts have ruled that brick-and-mortar stores that allowed consumers to rent video cassettes and watch them on the premises were infringing copyright by performing the movies.