Here at FTABlog, we’ve followed ivi.tv’s short rise to fame. We marveled at its ability to bring every over-the-air channel from its host cities to every viewer across the country. We subscribed to its monthly service when it was available. We even used it to watch Jeopardy from a faraway city. Then the big media companies with very deep pockets got the courts to agree that the very real copyright law loophole that ivi employed to justify its business plan wasn’t enough to override subsequent retransmission laws. Ivi gamely appealed its verdict, but today the Supreme Court declined to hear that appeal. It’s over.
All along, I said that the case was as if a Native American tribe had discovered an old treaty giving it ownership of what became Las Vegas, then showed it to the casinos and asked them to pay rent. I don’t care if the treaty had been notarized by President James Garfield, there’s enough money on the line that someone would find a way to invalidate it. Technically legal often isn’t enough.
And for one more metaphor, the original injunction against ivi was like a dear friend slipping into a coma. No one was optimistic about its recovery, but each further setback was still bad news. With the Supreme Court dropping the matter, it’s as though our friend has quietly passed away. Rest in peace, ivi.tv. You are missed.
Update: The fine folks at GeekWire also weighed in on this legal end-of-the-road. According to GeekWire, ivi issued a statement (where?) about the decision: “TV is broken and stifling innovation isn’t going to fix it. There’s too much at stake to allow copyright conglomerates to ruin the opportunity to gracefully innovate to new business models rather than facing utter demise. Did they learn nothing from the music industry? This is why the FCC must step up and take action.” Go read the whole GeekWire article.