Telco giants do the techno-legal time warp, again

February 3, 2012

Telecommunications giant Optus managed to convince the Federal Court in Sydney this week that there’s a legal blindspot in relation to its download pay-per-view service.

Telstra – given its business relationship with The National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (NFL) – had tried to prevent Optus from recording and re-broadcasting matches screened on free-to-air television.

But Justice Steven Rares found Optus’s mobile television service didn’t breach the Copyright Act for a couple of reasons: Optus keeps separate recordings for each customer, and individual customers are responsible for requesting the recordings.

So what’s going on here?

To my mind, former rugby league coach Roy Masters – ever the shrewd observer – hit the nail on the head when he wrote the following for the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday:

“They framed the copyright laws to protect the average punter from being sued for taping a TV show, including a football match on his home recorder. Now, their legislation is being used by Optus to sell a service.”

Naturally, Telstra has concerns. The AFL’s A$1.25 billion five-year rights deal signed last season with Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra, included a A$153m payment by Telstra for the online broadcast rights to games. The NRL, likewise, expected a proportion of its next deal to come from internet rights.

[first published on The Conversation, 3 Feb, 2012]

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Freeview gives me a chill

May 2, 2007

New Zealand has got a new free-to-air digital television service, Freeview, so what.
Really it is no more than what’s currently available, at least for now. The set top box that makes it available will cost around $300, why would you bother, just to get the same four channels that a standard UHF aerial gets you now.
Some commentators reckon it will eat into the monopoly currently enjoyed by Sky TV, but I can’t see it. Sky has ‘Girls of the Playboy Manson’ and ‘Naked Wild On’, not to mention the rugby, the rugby league and thousands of other sport ‘exclusives’.
What’s the strategy for TVNZ and TV 3 getting together wih a couple of other small players?
Well, to really enjoy the benefits of the digital service we’ll all eventually have to buy a TV with widescreen. Some time in the future (say 5-10 years) the analogue service will be switched off. So don’t buy a new TV, get outside and play with the dog, better for your physical and mental health.

I’ve had the flu, just getting better, so that’s it for now. A small rise from the sickbed to have a little whinge.
Back with more soon.