In a landmark ruling against PBL, Justice Annabelle Bennett of the Federal Court of Australia has ruled in favour of IceTV in its dispute with Channel Nine.

In a hearing today in the Federal Court in Sydney, she said that IceTV in repurposing television program information, was not actually engaged in broadcasting but representing information that was not the copyright of the Nine network.

This David and Goliath battle has been taking place since mid 2006. IceTV provides an electronic program guide (EPG) that allows users to record shows from their computer or mobile phone, record from two channels at once, record every episode, or even play while recording with greater ease than without having the programming information.

But the best part about this service is that users can fast forward past the ads altogether quite easily, if they wish. This technology caused a lot of networks to raise their eyebrows, specifically Channel Nine.

Nine believes that IceTV has breached its copyright laws by creating a program guide that looks similar to the channel network.

Speaking after today’s Federal Court ruling, Colin O’Brien the Chairman of Ice TV said, “This is a great win. We will now engage in dialogue with several major vendors who want to take our service”.

Among those vendors are believed to be Microsoft for its Media Center offering, HP, LG for its built in TV hard drive, as well as several PVR vendors.

O’Brien said: “During the past 18 months, we have burnt up a lot of money running ouroperation, awaiting this decision. We willnot refloat the business immediately.”

He added: “I believe that the free to air networks will now make their content available toeverybody. However, we are very close to rolling out an EPG service via a webbrowser, as the future is IPTV, including channels that will compete head-onwith free-to-air networks in Australia.We can provide a service to these organisations.”

A big winner in this battle is the consumer, as the ruling allows them to firstlyhave access to program information and secondly, to develop their own recordingcriterion which will allow them to cut out free-to-air advertising.

IceTV had received three legal opinions in the past and found that its program guide did not breach copyright. That advice has also been confirmed by two other legal firms, Mallesons and Simpsons Solicitors.

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