Lawyers defending online streaming start-up Zediva in a case brought by MPAA members submitted a court document denouncing the plaintiffs’ calls for a preliminary injunction. Citing the past defeats motion picture studios have endured in their earlier battles to criminalize video rentals, the company maintains it is not breaking any laws and is rather being unfairly attacked by those who view Zediva as a competing business model.
The statement (.PDF via Gigaom) claims that Zediva mimics the convenience of video rental operations “like Blockbuster and Netflix,” and like traditional brick-and-mortar businesses only rents out one copy of a movie to one person at a time.
“Zediva purchases DVDs sold by the studios and rents them to the public,” explains the document. “During the period of that rental, the customer controls the DVD player, and only that customer can view the disc.” Once the rental is “returned,” Zediva then (and only then) rents it to another customer, lawyers stated.
MPAA lawyers previously labeled such comparisons as “disingenuous,” framing Zediva’s operation as a “technical gimmick” meant only to sidestep the law.
“Defendants operate an online VOD [Video on Demand] service, not a neighborhood rental store,” proffered prosecutors in the original complaint (.PDF). “Unlike Zediva, rental stores do not transmit performances of movies to the public over the Internet using streaming technologies.”
However, Zediva doesn’t believe its service can be categorized as “public performance.”
“Each playback (or ‘performance’) of a DVD can be viewed only by the user who has full and exclusive control of that DVD and DVD player,” argued Zediva’s counsel. “Multiple people cannot watch the same particular DVD at the same time.” The lawyers added that all the company’s online transmissions are encrypted “to make sure there is no opportunity to copy or share the performance with others.”
A hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction is scheduled for July 25th.