The behemoths of U.S. broadcasting are out to quash iCraveTV, a Canadian Web site that rebroadcasts American and Canadian TV programs on the Web. Two separate lawsuits were filed yesterday, one by the NFL and the NBA, and one by 10 movie companies and three TV networks. As CNET reported, the first suit asks for $150,000 per broadcast - for a total of $5.4 million - as well as additional unspecified financial penalties. The movie company and TV network lawsuit is asking the courts to shut down iCraveTV immediately, the story said.
Lost in much of the coverage were the complicated international legal issues brought up by the case. The laws regulating broadcasting over the Web haven't caught up with those dealing with TV via cable or broadcast. CNET was one of few to mention iCraveTV's legal rationale, saying, "iCraveTV has consistently argued that Canadian law allows it to broadcast TV signals online, the same way that cable stations and satellite TV providers retransmit local stations.
Company chief executive Bill Craig has said he wants to pay the broadcasters and copyright holders for the use of their programs, just as cable and satellite companies do."
MSNBC touched on the international issue. According to reporter Brock Meeks, "A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America said U.S. copyright laws can be enforced against the Canadian-based company because the Web site's domain name is registered to Craig's consulting firm, which lists a Pennsylvania address." iCraveTV was unrepentant. Reuters reported that Ian Maccallum, VP of corporate sales and development for iCraveTV, said, "What we're doing is ethical, is legal, is moral, and the fact that somebody claims to the contrary does not change the true nature of it." Legal claims aside, "moral" might not be the right word for helping people watch more TV.