The Movie Studios Think Zediva is Illegal. Shocking!

By  |  Monday, April 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Last month, Jared wrote about Zediva, an online movie rental service with an absurd technological approach: Its founders have banks of DVD players and stream individual DVDs across the net at $1 a pop–including movies that are out on DVD but not otherwise available in any even theoretically legal form.

Shortly after Zediva launched, it discovered it hadn’t built enough infrastructure to handle the demand, and stopped accepting new members. Now it has a worse problem: The Motion Picture Association of America is suing the company on behalf of the major studios, saying that it’s illegally distributing movies. Oddly, the MPAA doesn’t appear to agree with Zediva’s “Hey, we’re just renting a DVD, like Blockbuster–we just happen to be doing it over the Internet!” theory.

I suspect that Zediva’s improbable technological approach would have done the company in sooner or later no matter what. But with the studios ganging up against it, now I’m wondering whether it’ll ever get fully up and running in the first place.

 

 
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10 Comments For This Post

  1. @jarredt Says:

    The Cablevision litigation regarding a remote DVR service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_DVR#Cablevision_litigation_in_the_U.S.) seems to suggest that if the only difference from regular home use is that the DVD and player are "place-shifted" to a remote location, there may not be a copyright violation. It seems to me that if each user is renting a remote, but individual, DVD and device from Zediva, a court might extend the Cablevision rule here as well.

  2. @jarredt Says:

    sorry for the bad link above: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_DVR#Cablevis….

  3. Jared Newman Says:

    I don't think it's a slam dunk for Hollywood either, but the question is whether Zediva has the resources to put up a fight. They already lack the resources to meet demand.

  4. @ymala1 Says:

    Hmm… how does Zediva's method differ from OnLive's methods for streaming gaming differ?.. apart from medium. I'm just curious…

  5. Paul Says:

    I would assume that OnLive has some sort of permission with the game companies (ETA: they do: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OnLive) where as these guys do not have permission.

  6. JaredNewman Says:

    On a related note, OnLive can stream as many instances of a game as its bandwidth will allow. Zediva is restricted by the number of DVDs and DVD players that it has stored up. That's how it claims to get around licensing, because its renting the hardware to you instead of streaming the software.

  7. The_Heraclitus Says:

    This is as I predicted…

  8. Colored Says:

    But I have my unused credit. How to contact Zediva folks to return my money??

  9. Joe Law Says:

    Isn't Zediva doing what Netflix has been doing for sometime now? I think the Iawyers on both sides are going to have a tough time fighting this case. It might be the ease of download or the cheap rates that is making the major studios worried.

  10. samraine100 Says:

    I think there is a way to rent the movies, and record them while they are screening. In such a way, you can be downloading movies for a fraction of the price it costs to buy them. On the other hand, you can always download them illegally for free, so I do not know why the movie studios would want to waste their resources on a small operation like this. There are bigger fish out there to catch.

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