ivi TV gets help from unexpected allies — four public-interest groups

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An intriguing alliance has formed among ivi TV, the brash startup that’s selling Internet access to specially encrypted TV signals, and four public interest organizations that have filed an amicus brief in its defense. The groups, Public Knowledge, the Media Access Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Open Technology Initiative of the New America Foundation, identify themselves in the “friends of the court” Jan. 31 filing as “public interest organizations concerned with maintaining an open, competitive, and diverse communications infrastructure.”

The Seattle-based ivi is being sued by 25 broadcasters including WGBH, WNET.org and PBS, which seek a restraining order to stop ivi from selling their content (Current, Oct. 4, 2010). The four public-interest groups are opposing that request, and telling the U.S. District Court in New York that online video distributors “are rapidly becoming one of the preeminent forces for competition in the marketplace, with the potential to lower consumer costs, spur technological innovation, and even promote the deployment of high-speed Internet access to communities it currently does not reach. However,” they add, “OVDs must be allowed to operate and innovate in this space if their promise is to be fulfilled.”

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