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Movie studios sue DVD streaming website Zediva

April 4, 2011 |  3:58 pm

The six major movie studios have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the website Zediva in a move that many industry observers thought was inevitable ever since the controversial site, which streams DVDs over the Internet for as little as $1 each, launched in March.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America, on behalf of its member studios, claimed that Zediva is violating the studios' legal right to control "public performances" of their content because the website does not have licensing agreements.

Unlike most online video services that stream digital copies of movies, Zediva essentially lets users rent a DVD and DVD player, which they control and watch via the Internet. A company representative last month claimed to the New York Times that this is legal, saying it's no different than renting a DVD and then viewing it online.

Its price of $1.99 per movie, or $10 for 10, is far less than the $4 or $5 that studios typically charge for new release movies through Internet video-on-demand. In a statement, Dan Robbins, MPAA associate general counsel, said that despite its use of DVDs, Zediva is no different than any other VOD service.

"When legitimate companies stream movies to their customers, they pay license fees to the copyright owners," he said. "Companies like Zediva profit off creators without paying them what is required by the law."

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, names Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Zediva parent company WTV Systems and its founder and chief executive, Venky Srinivasan, as defendants.

A representative for Zediva did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

-- Ben Fritz