iCraveTV returns to the Web


Los Angeles, - A Los Angeles-based software company is reviving a service that will allow consumers to watch TV over the Internet, but this time in accordance with copyright law reports Video Business Online.

Entervision CEO and president Herbert Becker said he is launching iCraveTV.biz on May 1 and will offer content from 10 TV stations over the Internet.

The concept is similar to that of defunct iCraveTV.com, which earned the ire of Canadian broadcasters, MPAA and major media companies two years ago by showing live TV content on the Internet. This time, Becker said, the programming will be under the full jurisdiction of the law.

Becker said that only one person involved with that business, William Craig, the founder, will be involved with iCraveTV.biz.

"The real key here is, can the networks make money?" he asked. "The truth is, they knew they could make money, but they wanted to do it in their own time. Take the case of ABC, which has affiliates nationwide. Some of the commercial spots are national, others are local. We're going to take what would be that local space on the broadcast and sell it. It won't be unusual watching this on the Internet and seeing a commercial in Japanese or Korean or French because we're going to be global."

Becker declined to comment on what stations would be available on iCraveTV.biz beyond saying that they would be "things that people want to watch."

The first content that would be available would be free, although Becker envisions adding on premium and pay-per-view channels as the market develops.

With technology developed by Entervision, a Web user will not need to launch an external players like Real Player or Windows Media Player in order to watch the TV shows. All the necessary programming will be embedded in the stream and viewable on the system's Web browser.

As part of the settlement agreement with the MPAA reached in February 2000, iCraveTV.com was barred from illegally seizing TV signals without authorization or payment and rebroadcasting them into the U.S.

The main legal disagreement that surfaced over iCraveTV.com was that in its home country of Canada, live TV could legally be broadcast over the Internet. During its four months of existence, however, the company started broadcasting U.S. content, such as National Football League games, which is not allowed under this country's copyright law.

According to the settlement, if such permission is granted and a payment routine verified, the company can continue to broadcast.

"The foregoing prohibition shall not apply if, and to the extent that, the iCraveTV parties have obtained the prior written consent of the relevant copyright owner(s) with respect to the transmission or dissemination of the copyrighted work(s) in question," according to court documents filed as part of the settlement.

"I really think the industry has changed quite a bit in the past three years," Becker said. "Then, people were caught by surprise. There is a larger acceptance of this kind of technology now."

Becker said the technology has advanced to the point where content not intended for U.S. viewers could be blacked out to prevent any further entanglements with Canadian or U.S. media companies.

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