Telstra, the NRL and AFL are sitting pretty this morning after winning their copyright appeal against Optus.
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The sporting bodies and Australia’s biggest telco took Optus to court over its TVNow mobile app, which allowed users to record free-to-air content and play it back within minutes of the live broadcast.
The trio sought to shut down the TVNow service, claiming it infringes copyright.
Telstra paid both the Rugby and Football codes millions for exclusive Internet and TV broadcast rights, which Optus’ service rendered worthless and threatened to jeopardise the sporting broadcasting rights media broadcasters pay vast sums for.
Optus did not pay either sporting body any money for broadcasting rights.
In February, Justice Steven Rares ruled Optus’ “TV Now service did not infringe copyright in the broadcasts of the AFL and NRL games in the particular ways that the rightholders alleged,” and didn’t conflict with the time-shifting provision contained within the (amended) 2006 Copyright Act.
But the Federal Court today overturned this decision on appeal by Team Telstra, flanked by the NRL, AFL, ruling that Optus was responsible for its customers recording content on its TVNow service, thus had breached copyright laws, SMH reports.
Optus said it was “disappointed” with today’s ruling and confirmed it will pull the TVNow app, while rival Telstra said it was a “great result.”
“This judgement is a great result for everyone who cares about the financial health of Australian sport,” a Telstra spokesperson said today.
“It ensures that sports bodies, and Australian content owners more generally, are able to receive a fair return from their property.
“Protecting intellectual property allows rights holders to invest in improving the quality of their content.
“The investments Telstra has made under its agreement with the AFL have produced a great product for AFL fans.”
Meanwhile, Optus said it is “disappointed by the decision but we will ensure it is complied with,” Clare Gill, General Manager Corporate and Government Affairs, said.
The telco confirmed it “will be suspending the TV Now service at this time” and is “currently reviewing the decision and considering all options available, including appeal.”
“We intend to keep leading the market with innovative and differentiated digital services,” Gill added, saying all customers will be informed of today’s outcome will affect service.