Time Warner Cable has filed a “declaratory Judgment” with Viacom, according to a TWC press release. The request is TWC’s way of asking the court to determine if they have the right to stream content for paid subscribers over Apple’s iPad. TWC Executive VP and General Counsel, Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum, continues to assert that they have the rights to stream Viacom’s content over the application in a user’s home, adding “With 360,000 downloads of our TWCableTV™ app, it is clear that our customers welcome the convenience and flexibility our new app provides.”
Programmers like Viacom and News Corp, Inc. have stated that they believe TWC is violating agreements between the company and programming stations, while TWC continues to uphold their position that the application is perfectly legal, since the user must be a subscriber and can only access the content while in their home. Think of it like taking your cable box and hooking it up to a different TV in your home.
A blog posting from TWC goes on to explain that the cable company felt it needed a third party involved in order to “confirm our interpretation is correct” as they have reached a stalemate in their talks with Viacom. At this time, Viacom is the only programmer named in the suit. TWC also makes it clear that they do not consider this to be a hostile lawsuit, but they do feel it is time to call someone else in to get it settled.
Last week, TWC dropped a number of channels from their iPad application in response to the cease and desist issued by News Corp and Viacom, but with the request from the court, it looks like that was simply compliance as they prepared to ask for someone to intervene.
The importance of this case is that it’s going to set precedence for other cable providers that may want to provide the same kind of application. Does the programmer have a right to prevent cable outlets from giving content to their paid subscribers, while in their home, and on the paid-for network?