Webcaster Under Fire

FRAMINGHAM (01/21/2000) - In a coordinated legal assault against Internet-based TV rebroadcaster iCraveTV, 10 motion picture companies, three television broadcast networks, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association are suing a Toronto-based Internet broadcaster for copyright infringement.

The suits stem from iCraveTV's practice of streaming feeds from 17 broadcast stations in Canada and the U.S. on the Internet, unedited and uninterrupted.

While Canadian law allows such rebroadcasting, U.S. copyright laws explicitly prohibit unauthorized reuse of broadcast content.

The suits allege that iCraveTV.com founders William Craig and George Simons, well aware of U.S. copyright law, purposely located the company across the border to avoid paying the entertainment companies for rebroadcast rights.

"They try to make it look like a Canadian site," said Motion Pictures Association of America spokesman Rich Taylor, but the site provides no way to prevent U.S.-based visitors from viewing the Canadian-based feed. "It's not exactly Fort Knox-level security."

He claimed that iCraveTV.com owner Craig registered the site's domain name as the property of his Pennsylvania-based consulting company, William R. Craig Consulting, which suggests that U.S. courts will have jurisdiction in the case.

Craig said in a press statement that the company hadn't been able to review the filings but "believes it is acting in compliance with all applicable laws and will defend itself actively and vigorously."

The lawsuits are seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent further unauthorized broadcasts by iCraveTV.com, as well as unnamed damages. "Damages are secondary," said Taylor. "We want to take them down."

The MPA Plaintiffs:

- ABC Inc.

-CBS Broadcasting Inc.

-Columbia Tristar Television Inc.

-Columbia Pictures Television Inc.

-Columbia Pictures Industries Inc.

-Disney Enterprises Inc.

-Fox Broadcasting Co.

-Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

-Orion Pictures Corp.

-Paramount Pictures Corp.

-Time Warner Entertainment Co. L.P.

-Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

-Universal Studios Inc.

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