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Australia Television The Courts

Optus Loses Second Battle In Aussie TV-Timeshifting Battle 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the copyright-dominance-games dept.
beaverdownunder writes "After winning an initial legal battle to continue its mobile 'TV Now' terrestrial-television re-broadcasting service, Optus has lost a second battle in Australian Federal court. The Optus system 'time-shifted' broadcast signals by two minutes, and then streamed them to customers' mobile phones. In the previous ruling, the judge sided with Optus' argument that since the customer requested the service, they were the ones recording the signal, and thus it was fair-use under Australian copyright law. However, the new ruling declared Optus to be the true entity recording and re-distributing the broadcasts, and thus in violation of the law. There has been no word yet on whether Optus will appeal the decision, but as they could be retroactively liable for a great deal of damages, it is almost certain that they will."
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Optus Loses Second Battle In Aussie TV-Timeshifting Battle

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  • by jbuk (1581659) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @12:56PM (#39832807)
    I don't see how this lawsuit can be for any purpose other than to make money out of Optus. Two minutes is an incredibly short amount of time, and is not allowing the customer to re-watch their programs at a later point in time, or anything like that which could conceivably leave the copyright holders out of pocket.
    • by LocalH (28506)

      I agree, especially since it doesn't seem that Optus is emphasizing the ability to watch football matches, but merely the ability to watch any FTA channel, regardless of content. Seems like they could get around the ruling by using the football schedule to block specific channels from being viewed at those times. That way, they can't claim "hey, you're streaming our football matches without license!" because they're not streaming the football matches.

      • If this was America I'd say that someone bought themselves a judge. I don't know how things work down there but the whole thing seems stupid.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Any monetary spoils are beside the point. This is just one battle in a bigger war. This is about controlling all distribution channels in order to maintain a hegemony, which is where the real money is...

      • Any monetary spoils are beside the point. This is just one battle in a bigger war. This is about controlling all distribution channels in order to maintain a hegemony, which is where the real money is...

        Exactly, if optus are allowed to do this they can legally build a national service capable of delivering video to cellphones nationwide. Then they can start offering their own content which is not owned by any tv licence holder, while still reaching the mindless tv watcher zombies market. This would inevitably result in the public seeing perspectives and facts that have not been pre-approved by the Murdoch global media hegemony (well maybe not global, but in Australia it is 99.9% of media). Then people migh

    • Of course it harms the copyright holder and the "short amount of time" is part of the problem for them. The rights holders for live sport will not be able to sell the distribution rights for online/mobile for a decent amount of money if any company can distribute the content with a minimal delay.

      You have to wonder what Optus were thinking. It was always a legally dubious idea with too much money at stake for them not to get sued and their best case scenario leaves them with no long term advantage, their
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      I don't see how this lawsuit can be for any purpose other than to make money out of Optus. Two minutes is an incredibly short amount of time, and is not allowing the customer to re-watch their programs at a later point in time, or anything like that which could conceivably leave the copyright holders out of pocket.

      It's a licensing agreement issue. Optus' competitors pay a HUGE fee to be the exclusive broadcaster of the footy in real time. Optus essentially says we'll just record the free-to-air feed and play it back later on the device.

      It's not about preventing customers from re-watching programs later, it's about preventing customers from watching the footy on Optus mobiles when Telstra has paid a small fortune for exclusive rights to such a feature.

      As always, customer loses.

    • This is a very interesting case. In Australia it is legal to record from the TV for personal use. Telstra has paid the Australian football federations a huge amount of money for the digital streaming rights for their content. Optus essentially side-stepped this by allowing individuals to use a hosted PVR to record the Free-to-Air transmission, and play it back on their mobile device.

      Telstra. the AFL and the NRL did a huge media campaign about how Optus was 'stealing' their content - but the first judge rule
    • The copyright holders were receiving a sum of money from Telstra to be the exclusive broadcaster of he NRL on mobile devices. Naturally, if Optus could get away with it, then both Telstra and the NRL lose a lot of money.

    • What, you mean someone offering a service they could be paying extra money for isn't hurting the copyright owners?
      of course, that way everything is hurting them. even you not watching them.

  • by wmbetts (1306001) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @02:02PM (#39833095)

    If I pay for my own antenna, hook it up to a server, record everything it can possible pickup, and then retransmit it to myself would that be illegal? If it's not then why would me renting all the equipment to do that be illegal? It sounds like that's basically what you're doing when you use their service.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      If you record and re-transmit to yourself it's not illegal. If you however offer this service to someone else then you are in this legal grey area especially when it comes to licensing football broadcasts.

    • Because your right to do it doesn't magically transfer to Optus. A lot of people seem to be of the opinion that this is bad news but I think it is really good news. If the courts sided with Optus then changes to copyright law to close the loophole would certainly have eventuated, perhaps with other negative side effects in tow.
  • I couldn't find any videos of this Octopus fight. :(
  • Is it sad that this sort of innovation is stifled? It sure is. Is it completely reasonable reading of the situation? I think so.

    The ruling said nothing more than it was the company who designed and operated the system, including all of the equipment that was recording the signals, that was actually doing the recording, not the customer. There weren't even damages awarded.

    The company said that since the customer started the process themselves, they were actually the ones that were making the recording.

    As an

    • by xQx (5744)
      Sure, I'll give you an analogue...

      Winchester make firearms, now say for the sake of argument, they own a gun club, and the allow people to use their firearms but Winchester own and maintain them.

      Now, a gun-club member takes one of the Winchester firearms and shoots a fellow member in the head.

      So, since the member pulled the trigger, they were instrumental in causing the person to die, but they didn't actually _do_ it. Because if Winchester had not created and maintained the firearm, the trigger action would
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      your reasoning would be apt ----- except that it's totally legal to sell that equipment to the consumer that optus is using and for the consumer to use that equipment..

      so the vending machine could be filled with machines that did this timeshift-retransmit and there would be nothing illegal about it. your vending machine analogy is stupid, because it doesn't take anything into account about this situation.

      • Do you understand what an analogy is? The idea is to create a similar situation that'd different, and then analyze it so we can get a better understand of it.

        Furthermore, simply calling an argument stupid, without actually providing any alternative, when the person presenting the argument clearly asked for counterarguments, is stupid. I'm guessing you don't have a lot of friends.

  • The Courtroom. Where great ideas go to die.

  • While I understand that the AFL and Telstra have a lot invested in the outcome of this... I don't understand how they're the ones bringing the case against Optus.

    Optus is recording the Channel 7 feed in its entirety on behalf of the user - there is no dispute about this.

    Apart from making Telstra's product worthless, what does this case have to do with them? Its not Telstra's content that Optus is recording - its Channel 's
    Apart from making the AFL's deal with Telstra worthless, what does this case have to

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      correct, they're bringing it to the courts because AFL sold the rights to stream the matches over the internet to Telstra for a sizable sum. They invented the right to monopoly on the internet for this service for their own purposes.

  • So what are the users going to do?

    This is again one of those cases where a great service is being offered, and some law (or at least the Aussie Federal Court's interpretation of it) stands in the way. Would it be such a stroke of genius for them to figure out that maybe the law should be changed? If Optus is smart, they can direct their customers anger in the right direction.

  • Anybody thought that the 2 minute delay might be caused by buffers and recompression to bring it down to cellphone quality?

    Next thing you know, buffering will be labeled as pirating ... :x

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