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.