Zediva streams new DVDs into homes, skirts the law

In case you somehow didn’t notice, online movie rental and video streaming services are in.

Netflix enjoys a massive user base, mainstream recognition and, as of yesterday, stands poised to enter the original programming arena with its upcoming series, “House of Cards.” Fandor is a new player intent on making its mark in the online streaming movie business by coupling independent films with Facebook. Amazon started its own streaming video program for paying Prime members last month with a sizable offering out of the gate. And now, one more company just got in on the action with a strange plan.

Zediva streams new DVDs into homes, skirts the law

Zediva rents out the DVDs they purchase by streaming them directly into customers’ homes, where they have free reign of how and when to watch. Essentially, the company plays the movies in its Santa Clara, CA offices and allows users access to the feed. This means consumers who dislike waiting those long 28 days for a new movie to become available on competing services like Netflix can get their film fix the day the DVD hits stores for $1.99 per rental.

An odd twist on the typical rental process for sure, but illegal? No, says the company.

“Zediva buys real authorized DVDs,” says Zediva founder Venky Srinivasan. “We are a DVD rental service. The notion of DVD rentals is well established. Just like any other DVD rental service, only one user can rent a DVD at a time.”

The executive goes on to compare Zediva with Blockbuster – perhaps a questionable parallel given that  company’s recent financial woes.

Some feel Zediva isn’t quite as legal as Srinivasan would like to believe.

The Associated Press talked to Bob Garrett, a copyright lawyer, who deemed the service “cute but illegal” and explained the myriad differences between what Zediva does (streaming DVDs across the internet) and what rental stores like Blockbuster do.

While Zediva may face legal hurdles in the future, for now its most pressing concern seems to be meeting demand. The website currently boasts that registration for the recently launched service is full.

Until new spots open up you’re stuck with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Redbox and Blockbuster. Poor you.