Zediva: Rent-a-DVD-Player Service under Fire

If you haven’t heard about Zediva yet, you may want to check it out quickly. Like iviTV and FilmOn, this company thinks that it has figured out a way to game the system to provide video content over the Internet. Where iviTV and FilmOn provided broadcast television programming, however, Zediva is renting DVD movies.

The wrinkle on the service is that you actually rent the physical DVD, just as if you were going to a Blockbuster store. You don’t ever get the DVD, however; the rental price includes the use of a DVD player in a Zediva server farm. The physical disc is put in a physical drive that is dedicated to sending you the content over the Internet. Rentals cost between $1 and $2, depending on how many rental credits you buy at a time, which you can purchase using PayPal. You have 14 days to watch the movie once you’ve rented it. And based on the company’s website, you can choose from the most current and popular DVD releases. The service only offers DVDs at this point; high-definition Blu-ray is not yet supported.

As you might imagine, not everyone is happy with this arrangement. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has asked a California district court for an injunction against the service, pending the outcome of a copyright lawsuit. The MPAA claims that Zediva is streaming the content without a license. In an interesting development, Cablevision has filed a brief with the court that supports the MPAA position. This is a tad ironic, since Cablevision was sued for copyright violations when it created a digital video recording (DVR) service for its customers that stored and streamed the recorded programming from its own servers.

The hearing on the injunction request is scheduled for July 25, so you may not have much time to check out Zediva if things don’t go its way in court.