[LINK] Nine TV loses online copyright case
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
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
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