The European Court of Justice has been asked to consider whether the EU Copyright Rules should be changed in order to prevent public service broadcasters from re-transmitting TV programmes over the internet without the right holder's permission in the UK.
The Court of Appeal is currently dealing with a dispute between a number of UK TV broadcasters such as ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 and the online streaming company TVCatchup.
The dispute concerns the application of Section 73 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which states that the copyright in a broadcast is not infringed if the re-transmission is made for reception in the area in which it was originally transmitted. Online streaming providers have relied on this provision in order to stream content from various TV channels without seeking permission or paying fees to the copyright owners or the broadcast owners of the programmes.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has claimed that the rules contained in Section 73 do not apply to content streamed over the internet as the rule was intended to support the development of analogue cable infrastructure in the 1980s and 1990s and therefore the rule is now outdated in light of the development of digital TV.
The potential change in legislation would mean that online streaming providers such as TVCatchup will have to obtain licenses from the broadcasters and perhaps pay fees if they want to continue streaming the TV programmes otherwise they will be committing copyright infringement. As the owners of the copyright in the programmes, the broadcasters may prohibit the re-transmission of their programmes through third party streaming sites.
This would be a positive movement in respect of updating the current intellectual property legislation and protecting copyright owner's rights in their work. It could also mean that we will see more licensing dispute claims in the courts.in: Companies, Copyright, Digital/Tech, News