Netflix, Amazon, and the major film studios have once again joined forces to sue the maker of a TV service and hardware device, alleging that the products are designed to illegally stream copyrighted videos.
The lawsuit was filed against the company behind Set TV, which sells a $20-per-month TV service with more than 500 channels.
“Defendants market and sell subscriptions to ‘Setvnow,’ a software application that Defendants urge their customers to use as a tool for the mass infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” the complaint says. Besides Netflix and Amazon, the plaintiffs are Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros.
The complaint was filed Friday in US District Court for the Central District of California. The companies are asking for permanent injunctions to prevent further distribution of Set TV software and devices, the impoundment of Set TV devices, and for damages including the defendants’ profits.
Live TV channels
Set TV’s website says its applications let customers view TV channels on Windows, Mac, Android, and other platforms. The company also sells an $89 set top box that is preloaded with its software.
“Whether their customers choose a subscription or a preloaded box, what Defendants actually sell is illegal access to Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Works,” the complaint says.
The Set TV service offers “a user-friendly interface and reliable access to popular content,” just like legitimate streaming services, but “customers only pay money to Defendants, not to Plaintiffs and other content creators upon whose copyrighted works Defendants’ business depends,” the lawsuit says.
Set TV’s website advertises access to live channels such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, Bloomberg, TNT, FX, USA, Bravo, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, and many others. Customers are told that they can watch all those channels for $20 a month, with “no long-term commitments, no activation fees, no cancellation fees, [and] no credit check.”
“The Setvnow application provides a built-in media player and curated menus of live television channels and on-demand television show episodes and movies,” the industry lawsuit says.
When a user selects a channel, “Setvnow begins streaming the selected content from third-party sources,” the complaint says. “These sources capture live transmissions of the above-listed television channels, convert the copies of the television programs into streaming-friendly formats, and then retransmit the entirety of the live broadcasts over the Internet.”
Set TV provides access to on-demand video in a similar way, “rel[ying] on third-party sources that illicitly reproduce copyrighted works and then provide streams of popular content such as movies still exclusively in theaters and television shows,” the lawsuit says. The industry says that Set TV advertises its service “as a substitute for authorized and legitimate distribution channels such as cable television or video-on-demand services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.”
Set TV owner Jason LaBossiere is also a defendant in the case. In 2014, Google filed a complaint against LaBossiere in order to gain control of the androidtv.com and xbmcandroidtv.com domain names, alleging that he misused Google’s trademark to sell TV devices. Both domain names are now controlled by Google.
We left a message with Set TV today and will update this story if we get a response. Calls to a phone number listed for LaBossiere could not be completed.
Netflix, Amazon, and the studios previously sued the makers of the similar “Dragon Box” and “Tickbox.” A lawyer for the Dragon Box company told Ars in January that the product merely links to content online and that the entertainment industry is “fighting tooth and nail against innovation and technology.”