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Time Warner Cable and Viacom sue over iPad app

Futurama_cast_v8 Time Warner Cable and Viacom are heading to the courts for a tussle over live video streaming on the Apple iPad.

The brouhaha began last month when TWC released an app allowing its cable subscribers to watch live television on their iPads (such as "Futurama" on Comedy Central), sparking a debate over content and licensing rights amid the skyrocketing popularity of mobile devices.

On Thursday, the two companies countersued in the U.S. District Court in New York's southern district, according to statements from both companies.

TWC "filed a request for declaratory judgment" and asked the court to rule that the cable company had the right to transmit TV programming to any device for customers, the company said. Viacom, in its suit, argued that it has always been device-specific when negotiating distribution rights to its content and seeks damages for TWC's alleged breach of licensing and distribution agreements.

Since the TWCableTV app launched, the cable company has removed several channels to appease content providers.

"We have steadfastly maintained that we have the rights to allow our customers to view this programming in their homes, over our cable systems, without artificial limits on the screens they can use to do so, and we are asking the court to confirm our view," said Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum, general counsel of Time Warner, in a statement Thursday.

Viacom shot back Thursday and deemed TWC's actions "brazen" and concluded that TWC could afford to negotiate additional agreements to provide programming on other devices besides television "without passing along any additional costs to its customers."

"Viacom has made clear that it is willing to discuss extension of similar rights to others -- including TWC. What Viacom cannot do, however, is permit one of its contracting partners, TWC, to unilaterally change the terms of its contractual relationship," Viacom's lawsuit said.

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-- Shan Li

Photo: Cast of the TV show "Futurama" on Comedy Central, one of the TV shows being streamed live to iPads. Credit: Comedy Central.

 
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