iCrave caves, agrees to settle

The Canadian Web site iCraveTV.com has given into pressure from American and Canadian broadcasters and agreed to an out-of-court settlement that shuts down the iCraveTV Web site, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has announced.

Under the settlement, iCraveTV, which has been embroiled in lawsuits over its rebroadcasting of 17 Canadian television channels over its site, has agreed to “never again engage in the illegal streaming of television signals into the U.S. via the Internet,” the MPAA said in statement. In exchange, iCraveTV does not have to return to court, the MPAA said.

In two separate lawsuits filed on Feb. 20 – one filed by 10 movie companies and three TV networks and the other by the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) – iCraveTV was accused of violating broadcasters’ copyrights by carrying programming on its Web site that was not authorized or paid for.

Among the networks included in iCraveTV’s rebroadcasts were the American Broadcasting Company Inc. (ABC), CBS Broadcasting Inc., National Broadcasting Company Inc. (NBC), and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

In its defence, iCraveTV had insisted it was allowed to broadcast TV signals under Canadian law, much in the same way that cable stations and satellite TV companies retransmit local stations.

On Feb. 8, a U.S. District Judge in Pittsburgh issued a preliminary injunction ordering iCraveTV and its backers William R. Craig, William R. Craig Consulting, George Simons and TVRadio Now Corp. to cease the rebroadcasting of the signals into the U.S., the MPAA said.

The MPAA stressed in the statement that the copyright suit against iCraveTV was not meant to be an attack on the Internet in general. Plaintiffs in the settled lawsuit included Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Disney Enterprises Inc., Columbia TriStar Television Inc., Columbia Pictures Television Inc., Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Orion Pictures Corp., Paramount Pictures Corp., Universal City Studios Inc., Time Warner Entertainment Co. L.P. (Warner Bros.), ABC, CBS, and Fox Broadcasting Co., the MPAA said.

The MPAA, in Encino, Calif., can be contacted at (818) 995-6600, or at www.mpaa.org/.