Streaming set-top boxes and IPTV services have been selling like hot cakes over the past several years.
While some of these offer access legally, that’s certainly not always the case. The unauthorized services are a thorn in the side of mainstream entertainment industry companies, which are trying hard to address the problem.
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) has been particularly active on this front. The anti-piracy partnership between Hollywood studios and more than two dozen other companies, has filed lawsuits against several services already, and this week they add a big one to the list.
In a complaint filed at a Federal Court in California, a group of ACE members accuse the US-based company ‘Omniverse One World Television’ and its owner Jason DeMeo of copyright infringement.
Omniverse doesn’t offer any streaming boxes but sells live-streaming services to third-party distributors, such as Dragon Box, HDHomerun, Flixon TV, and SkyStream TV, which in turn offer live TV streaming packages to customers.
“Defendants operate at a higher level in the supply chain of infringing content—recruiting numerous downstream services like Dragon Box into the illicit market and providing them with access to unauthorized streams of copyrighted content.
“Defendants function as a ‘hub’ of sorts, with the enlisted downstream
services as the ‘spokes.’ Omniverse’s offering is illegal, it is growing, and it
undermines the legitimate market for licensed services,” the complaint adds.
According to the official website, Omniverse includes more than 70 top US TV channels and 8 premium channels. However, ACE and its members allege that some of the channels are offered without proper licenses. As such, they are illegal.
“Omniverse’s illegal services, and the downstream ‘Powered by Omniverse’ entities, undermine the legitimate market for legal and licensed services, a harm that has grown as Omniverse has expanded,” ACE spokesperson Richard VanOrnum informs TorrentFreak.
Omniverse’s owner Jason DeMeo previously insisted that his company had acquired the rights to stream some channels in the US. However, in an interview with Cord Cutters News, he was not willing to share any details on the underlying contract.
The complaint clearly disputes this, stressing that Omniverse and all “Powered by Omniverse” services are operating illegally.
“Plaintiffs have not granted licenses that permit Defendant DeMeo or
Omniverse to stream the Copyrighted Works or sublicense streams to whatever counterparty they wish,” ACE writes.
According to ACE, the public has plenty of options to watch movies and TV-shows through official channels, with 140 legal online services for film and TV content is the US alone.
The movie, TV show, and distribution alliance is now asking the California court for an injunction to shut down the infringing service and impound all hardware. In addition, they’re requesting statutory damages which can go up to several million dollars.
MPAA CEO Charles Rivkin comments that lawsuits like this one are needed to protect the livelihoods of millions of people who depend upon a healthy film and television industry.
“I’ve seen firsthand how creators are economically harmed by piracy enterprises, which is why today’s ACE litigation – and the MPAA’s work helping make it happen – is another strong step forward protecting the rights of artists,” Rivkin says.
We also reached out to Omniverse for a comment on the allegations but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back. The Omniverse website, meanwhile, remains online.
A copy of the ACE complaint against Omniverse is available here (pdf).