Film Law: Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Obtains Permanent Injunction Against Zediva Streaming Service

In Film Law by FASHIONENTLAW™

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April 2011, Motion Pictures of America sued Zediva an online movie streaming company that had begun streaming MPAA movies without consent. In its complaint, MPAA argued copyright infringement.

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2011

MOTION PICTURE STUDIOS FILE LAWSUIT AGAINST ZEDIVA

LOS ANGELES – The nation’s leading movie studios today filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against the operators of the unlicensed movie-streaming service Zediva (www.zediva.com), the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) announced on behalf of its members. Zediva illegally streams movies to its customers without obtaining required licenses from the movie studios, in violation of the studios’ right to “publicly perform” their works.

Zediva claims it is like a brick-and-mortar DVD “rental” store and therefore not obligated to pay licensing fees to copyright holders. But the DVD “rental” label is a sham. In reality, Zediva is a video-on-demand service that transmits movies over the Internet using streaming technologies in violation of the studios’ copyrights.

“Zediva’s mischaracterization of itself is a gimmick it hopes will enable it to evade the law and
stream movies in violation of the studios’ exclusive rights,” said Dan Robbins, Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for the MPAA. “Courts have repeatedly seen through the façade of this type of copyright-avoidance scheme, and we are confident they will in this case too.”

The studios and law-abiding streaming services are making significant investments in new technologies to offer consumers a variety of authorized online distribution services. Zediva’s model undermines these and future investments, as well as the interests of legitimate distribution businesses.

“When legitimate companies stream movies to their customers, they pay license fees to the copyright owners, enabling content providers to invest in new products and services that pay writers, set builders, wardrobe designers, and countless others who contribute to a movie production. Companies like Zediva profit off creators without paying them what is required by the law,” said
Robbins.

The studios’ complaint alleges a single count of copyright infringement against WTV Systems, the parent company of Zediva, and Venkatesh Srinivasan, Zediva’s founder and CEO. Specifically, the complaint, filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, alleges that the defendants violate the
plaintiffs’ exclusive right to “publicly perform” their movies under Section 106(4) of the Copyright
Act. The studios seek an injunction and damages. For a copy of the Zediva Complaint click here. For a copy of the Zediva FAQ Sheet click here.

About the MPAA
The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion
picture, home video and television industries from its offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Its members include: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios LLC; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

# # # For more information, contact:
MPAA Los Angeles Elizabeth Kaltman (818) 995-6600
Elizabeth_kaltman@mpaa.org

MPAA Washington, D.C.
Howard Gantman
(202) 293-1966
Howard_gantman@mpaa.org

The parties have now settled their dispute. Deadline.com which tells of this latest development, does not quite capture the legal procedure that took place. Essentially, both parties negotiated a settlement agreement and it appears as part of that negotiation, also agreed to a stipulated consent judgment and permanent injunction.

Huh? In English, this means that Zediva agreed not to fight tooth and nail to show why the court should not prevent Zediva from streaming MPAA films. So, it willingly agreed to just stop streaming MPAA movies via a “Stipulated (we agree) consent judgment and permanent injunction.” It saves the Judge and all parties time. The judge simply entered the agreement/stipulation all parties have agreed to.

“The MPAA’s fight on behalf of the studios to shut down movie-streaming site Zediva began in April, when it filed a lawsuit claiming the service offered up films to paying customers without permission from copyright owners, violating the studios’ exclusive right to publicly perform their movies under federal law. Today, U.S. District Judge John Walter agreed, entering a a permanent injunction prohibiting the site’s operators from continuing the service and from any further infringement (see the doc here).”

Deadline.com has the full story.

If you would like to read a copy of MPAA’s complaint, click here.

Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her firm’s fashion and entertainment law practice areas. Ms. Uduak has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts. She has also handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients including network television and licensing deals. Her work and contributions to the creative industry has been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA: ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also the author of Fashionentlaw™ and also has over two decades combined hands on industry experience in the creative industry which includes modeling, retail, fashion production, public relations, digital media, journalism and publishing. For further inquiries or if you are seeking legal representation, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). You may also follow her on twitter at @uduaklaw

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