Battle Intensifies: Fox Serves Cablevision with Cease & Desist Letter

The World Series is just a day away and Fox and Cablevision are no closer to a retransmission deal. In fact the acrimony is only intensifying.

Today Fox served Cablevision with a cease and desist letter for encouraging theft of copyrighted content for "apparently directing subscribers to illegal websites to view FOX shows, as well as coverage of NFL games and Major League Baseball's playoffs— all copyrighted content.". The "New York Daily News."

The New York Daily News article reports that a Cablevision representative directed a customer to illegal websites. It gets worse: the New York Daily news says it has a tape of a Cablevision representative saying that the company has an "internal 'team' trolling the Internet for similar ways people can watch Fox for free."

Fox's letter to Cablevision CEO James Dolan is direct and raises the stakes. Here's an excerpt:

"Directing customers to illegal web sites that steal Fox programming constitutes copyright infringement by Cablevision because Cablevision is inducing and materially contributing to the infringing activities of these illegal web sites. We demand that you immediately cease this activity. Fox reserves the right to exercise appropriate legal remedies to enforce its rights, which may include, among other things, seeking immediate injunctive relief, recovery of its actual and exemplary damages and reimbursement of its attorneys fees incurred in enforcing its rights."

What now? It's day 10 of the standoff and Cablevision's 3 million plus customers still don't have access to Fox channels. Right now the FCC is reviewing the letters Cablevision submitted Monday afternoon, detailing how they've each been negotiating in good faith. Each day that passes, the more money is at risk for each of the parties.

Update: Here's Cablevision's response:

“This is an obvious tactic from News Corp, which blocked the Internet, to shift focus away from their pulling the plug on 3 million New York households. Fox should cease and desist its World Series blackout, put its programming back on Cablevision and agree to binding arbitration.”

Questions? Comments?