Back in March, DVD streaming service Zediva raised a few eyebrows when it claimed to be able to offer streaming versions of just-released DVD movies using a novel approach: customers didn’t just rent the DVD remotely, they also rented a DVD player remotely, and received the output over the Internet. Zediva argued that their business model was no different than a traditional video rental store, but—unsurprisingly—the MPAA disagreed and filed suit for copyright infringement, claiming Zediva did not have the right to stream its members content. Now federal judge John F. Walker has agreed, granting a preliminary injunction that bars Zediva from providing streaming movies.
“Defendants are violating Plaintiffs’ exclusive right to publicly perform their Copyrighted Works,” Judge Walker wrote in his ruling. Walker ruled that damages to the movie studios outweighed any hardship Zediva might suffer as a result of the injunction.
“[The] decision is a great victory for the more than two million American men and women whose livelihoods depend on a thriving film and television industry,” said MPAA senior VP and associate general counsel Dan Robbins, in a statement (PDF)
Zediva has argued that granting the injunction would potentially destroy their business, and most industry watchers agree: the DVD streaming operation (apparently run off banks of DVD players in a Silicon Valley data center) is Zediva’s only current product or offering, and without being able to stream movies to customers, it’s hard to see how the company will continue operating. Nonetheless, the company apparently intends to pursue its case, vowing to stand up for consumers’ rights to watch DVDs they’ve rented, whether that be from a brick-and-mortar store or from an online service.