[LINK] Nine TV loses online copyright case

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Wed Apr 22 16:20:23 AEST 2009

Nine Network loses online copyright case


Helen Westerman | April 22, 2009 - 3:35PM
An online start-up company with 15 staff has triumphed over  the 
might of  the Nine Network in a three-year legal battle that made it 
all the way to Australia's High Court - and forced workers  to watch 
the Nine Network  24 hours a day.

In 2006 Nine alleged that  IceTV - an online electronic program 
guide  for digital free-to-air television -  was infringing copyright 
by publishing the scheduling details of its programs.

But the Sydney-based IceTV was today told it had succeeded in its 
High Court appeal over a previous ruling by the Federal Court in 
favour of the Nine Network.

That ruling had banned IceTV from using online  guides or websites 
that could allow them to compile Nine's programming.

So IceTV staff were forced to watch the network at all times.

''A lot of our staff, we all know Nine's programming inside and out, 
unfortunately, and certainly our guide has been purely based on 
monitoring and watching their on-air promotions,'' said general 
manager Matt Kossatz.

An ''ecstatic'' Mr Kossatz  said he hoped the ruling would be the 
final chapter in the saga.

''As far as I know, this is it,'' Mr Kossatz said.

IceTV produces a subscription-based third party digital TV electronic 
program guide  that  allows users to watch or skip  programs  at a 
time they choose. Viewers can also skip ads.

Nine objected to IceTV reproducing its scheduling on their EPG, 
arguing this infringed its copyright, although other networks did not.

The action came after Nine had bought content syndication service 
HWW. The action also stymied an attempt by IceTV to raise $4 million 
through a public float in the Australian Stock Exchange.

Mr Kossatz said the court case had forced the company  to drop staff 
and pull back on spending.

But he said the case in some ways had been a ''blessing in disguise''.

''We had an IPO to float the company and raise some capital and a lot 
of that would have been spent on marketing the product,'' he said.

''That was three years ago and in those days the EPG was such a 
foreign product particularly to the consumer anyway, and some would 
argue that money would have been better spent, or wasted, at the time.

''We pulled things back, we haven't spend a cent on advertising or 
marketing. Obviously a lot of the costs have gone to legal bills, 
being a small start-up and hopefully it's going to pay off in the 
long run.'' Mr Kossatz said its legal bills were in the ''millions''.

IceTV has been awarded costs.

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

_ __________________ _

More information about the Link mailing list