Time Warner asks judge to decide on iPad streaming

The cable operator has asked the judge to decide if it has the right to let people stream content to their iPads

Time Warner has asked a judge to rule on whether it has the right to let customers stream cable content to their iPads, a question that has lit up debate among content providers, cable companies and their customers over the past weeks.

Time Warner filed a request in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for a declaratory judgment related to Viacom, which owns TV companies including MTV and Nickelodeon. The cable operator is asking a judge to rule that its customers are allowed to view Viacom content on any device they choose, including iPads, in their homes.

Time Warner released an iPad app in mid-March that lets customers stream cable TV programs to their iPads over Wi-Fi in their homes. A couple of weeks later, it said that Fox Cable, Viacom and Discovery had asked it to remove their programming from the app. While Time Warner did pull the content, it said it believed it had the right to deliver the content to its iPad app.

"We will pursue all of our legal rights against the programmers who don't share our vision," it said at the time. "We will continue to fight to ensure that our customers have access to the content they pay for, no matter which screen in their home they choose to view it on."

Time Warner downplayed the legal action in a blog post Thursday. "To be completely clear: this is not a hostile lawsuit. It's a request for a declaratory judgment," Jeff Simmermon, a Time Warner spokesman, wrote. "We're at an impasse with a handful of network owners, and we need an impartial third party to referee the situation and confirm that our interpretation is correct. We thought the most efficient way to settle this would be to go before a judge and ask for a decision that, while noncombative, would establish the rights that we bargained for."

The request for declaratory judgment does not appear to be available yet online.

Viacom did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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