I KNEW I should have used my lingering Zediva credits! Apparently, a federal judge by the name of John F. Walter has slapped down Zediva (remember, the Netflix competitor that lets you rent a DVD and player and stream movies from that player via Internet) with an injunction citing that they “threaten the development of a successful and lawful video-on-demand market.”

Federal Injunction Against Zediva

Say judge, you haven’t seen that successful VOD market have you? It’s a rockin place, you should visit sometime. But, as usual, I digress. While Zediva maintains that they lawfully buy and rent DVDs but just stream the content instead of sending the discs to people, the MPAA-approved press release calls them ‘unlicensed.’

The following is a statement by Dan Robbins, Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for the MPAA, in response to the ruling in Los Angeles:

Judge Walter’s decision is a great victory for the more than two million American men and women whose livelihoods depend on a thriving film and television industry.  Judge Walter rejected Zediva’s argument that it was ‘renting’ movies to its users, and ruled, by contrast, that Zediva violated the studios’ exclusive rights to publicly perform their movies, such as through authorized video-on-demand services.

Wait, what? How is it really any different from actually sending the consumer a DVD? Either way, the digital content of the disc is only being displayed as per the user’s request.

But it was this follow up comment that made me laugh aloud. Because it’s total spin:

Movie fans today have more on-demand options than ever for watching films at home, from iTunes to Netflix to Amazon to Vudu to Hulu to the VOD offerings from cable and satellite operators. All these legitimate companies have obtained licenses from the copyright owners. The court found Zediva’s service threatened the development of these lawful VOD and Internet-based services.

Of course, it’s also entirely wrong. We now have one less option because of your narrow-mindedness and feelings of being threatened. Well done MPAA, see why most consumers still hate you?

Zediva plans to appeal the decision, and their website still appears to show that it’s business as usual:

Was Zediva Breaking The Law?

What I’m really curious about is the difference in what Zediva is doing, and what, say, Blockbuster is doing. Perhaps it’s just a simple change of wording.

Actually from what I can see, no special licenses or copyright requirements exist in regards to renting videos for general home use. Since that is, in essence, what Zediva is doing (in a digital version of the lame, old by-mail physical format) how can they be wrong? I mean, Blockbuster didn’t get shot down (they shot themselves in the foot), Hollywood video and every mom and pop shop in the country is doing exactly the same thing, right? They’re buying DVDs and then renting them out for performance in the home.

So Zediva is buying DVDs, putting them into DVD player and sending the digital stream to a person’s TV or computer. The only difference is the physical location of the DVD and the player…it’s really just like a massively long HDMI cable, is it not?

This is certainly an interesting predicament. Zediva is not actually changing the format of the product so they’re not violating the copyright law in that respect. They’re simply changing the delivery of that information, so, again I ask you, how can that be illegal?