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While Congress wrestles with what, if anything, it should do to safeguard intellectual property in the e-world, the copyright industry has taken on yet another alleged cyber-scofflaw. This time, the target is RecordTV.com, an outfit that has been copying movies and TV programs from a cable service in Los Angeles County and then streaming them to consumers who have ordered them. On June 15, as a congressional panel tackled the thorny issue of copyrighted webcast programming, 12 entertainment industry giants were headed to court to accuse the California company of copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, and violation of the Cable Communications Policy Act (, C.D. Cal., No. 00-06443 (MMM), filed June 15, 2000). According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, RecordTV.com bills itself as an “advertiser-supported, commercial ‘Internet VCR’” that lets users view streamed TV shows and movies copied from over-the-air stations and cable channels. The webcaster plans to add video commercials to the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works and offer access to pay-per-view and other premium services as well. Not only is RecordTV.com swiping their IP, it is flagrantly thumbing its nose at the law, according to plaintiffs. “RecordTV.com and [co-defendant David] Simon are fully aware that their actions violate the law,” the studios charged. “Defendants have admitted that their lawyers advised them that their actions were — as Defendants put it — ‘completely illegal.’” The company even announced in its business plan that “The beauty of this business is that we have ZERO cost of content for the web site,” the plaintiffs added. “We are preparing to proceed full steam ahead to protect our rights — until RecordTV.com has been banished from the Internet forever,” plaintiffs’ counsel Robert M. Schwartz, of Los Angeles, Calif.’s O’Melveny & Myers LLP said June 16. But RecordTV.com chief David Simon said June 19 that talks between his company and the Motion Picture Association of America are ongoing. The Web site is down, Simon said, adding, “We’re trying to work this out.” The suit against RecordTV.com is yet another round in the increasingly bitter battle between content owners and dot-coms scurrying to meet rising consumer demand for online entertainment. In late February, lawsuits filed by movie studios and sports leagues forced the shut-down of iCraveTV, a Canadian company that had been picking up TV broadcasts from stations in Toronto and Buffalo, N.Y., and transmitting them to a U.S. audience without paying copyright royalties. ICraveTV’s renegade operation prompted much soul-searching in the IP community and Congress over how to mesh copyright laws with the wide-open world of the Internet. At a June 15 oversight hearing, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property examined the state of the market for music and video Internet streaming and fretted over whether legislation — in the form of compulsory licensing or laws aimed at changing the mindset that copying on the Internet is legal — would dam the growing tide of cyberpiracy. The studios’ latest attack will likely not be their last. “The industry is evaluating its strategies with a view towards similar suits,” a knowledgeable source said.

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