Omniverse: Another win for ACE

Image source: US District Court Case 2:19-cv-01156 Document 1
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Following the recent shutdown of Openload and Streamango , the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) remains on a roll. This week, ACE announced that it obtained a consent decree and permanent injunction against Omniverse One World Television, Inc. from a federal district court in California. Omniverse agreed to pay $50 million in damages. The site was shut down earlier in 2019.

Read the full ACE press release

Omniverse had marketed a basic package of 70 TV channels, 7-day catch-up and 50 hours of cloud DVR directly to individual consumers under a brand called SkyStream TV, for $35/month; with premium upgrades ranging up to $65/month. It also was sold as a white label offering to downstream pirate Web sites. In 2014, Omniverse issued a press release promoting itself as “Fastest Growing Subscriber Based TV Media Solution in the United Sates (sic).”

Programming was obtained by Omniverse from a private cable operator called Hovsat, which in turn was alleged to have a 100-year agreement to offer DirecTV in multiple dwelling units. Omniverse was delivered to consumers via legitimate streaming boxes including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, via mobile apps. It also bundled the offering with an illicit streaming device (ISD, a pirate streaming box) built in China, called Omnibox TV, starting in 2014. The Omnibox was certified by the FCC in 2015.

Omniverse also sold advertising under an entity called New Media Buys, which now redirects to a url ‘omnishop.tv,’ and in turn invites the visitor to click to redirect.

For those interested in further details of Omniverse, read the February 2019 copyright infringement complaint from the US District Court. Light Reading also covered Omniverse extensively.

Why it’s important

Omniverse was high in the piracy food chain, and its shutdown starves other pirates that in turn were distributing content obtained from Omniverse. One of its great ironies is that it promoted itself blatantly, tried for years to position its sourcing arrangements as legitimate, and even had its ISD FCC certified. But the agreement by Omniverse to pay a $50 million settlement showed its true colors.

This case also demonstrates that anti-piracy is a high-stakes undertaking that involves many parties. In this case, the parties are well resourced. ACE acted as proxy for eight major media companies: Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox Films, Warner Brothers Entertainment, and three units of Universal.

Smaller independent video producers are not so fortunate to have such resources at their disposal.

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