Optus could face legal claims following copyright ruling

Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 01-05-2012

Australian telco Optus could face legal claims by content TV rights owners following a court decision last week that its TV Now mobile TV service breached copyright law.

TV Now lets Optus customers record free-to-air television from their smartphone or computer and watch it on the same devices with a delay as little as two minutes. Back in February a landmark federal court case found that Optus did not breach the Copyright Act by showing live NRL and AFL matches online with TV Now.

However, last week a federal appeal court reversed this ruling, and found that TV Now was in breach of copyright law.
The Australian reports that copyright lawyer experts said free-to-air broadcasters and television production companies whose entertainment was recorded using the service could soon line up behind sports rights owners seeking compensation.

Gilbert & Tobin partner Michael Williams said the implications of the ruling applied equally to other rights holders whose content was recorded using the service.
"It doesn't surprise me that they wanted to bring (Optus TV Now) down quick smart because once you're on notice that you're found to be infringing, it's not like you can mount a sensible case that you were unaware you had no reason to suspect you were infringing," Williams told the Australian.
Commercial broadcasters Ten Network Holdings, Seven and Nine Network all declined to comment publicly when asked whether they would seek compensation from Optus.
Privately one network admitted that it might be difficult to quantify damages for any alleged breach.

The Australian Broadcast Corporation said it was "not convinced that the Optus TV matter (was) over and (would) reserve its position".
Optus hinted that it was preparing to appeal the matter to the High Court, saying it would not comment "given aspects of the case are yet to be determined and we are still subject to legal proceedings".