Copyright Battle Literally Turns into Football Replay Review

The Australian High Court has refused to overturn a ruling holding Optus TV liable for copyright infringment for recording and showing from its cloud free over the air broadcasts of the Australian Football League.

From Google/YouTube to Apple/Samsung to Sydney, Australia, the new battles of copyright and intellectual property war are being waged by massive entities seeking to control the distribution of entertainment and ideas.

Although there are no pure or neutral judicial decisions based on law alone, the logic of the upheld appellate court decision seemed, at best, strained:

“The full bench of the Federal Court ruled that the 2004 exemption in the Copyright Act, which was designed to allow people to record TV broadcasts to watch later at a time more convenient, did not apply to the TV Now product, because Optus stood to gain commercially from it. And although the recording system was automated, Optus nonetheless had a role in “making” the recording.”

Some commentators worry about the effect that this decision may have on cloud storage services. I see the issue differently. The case has interest because the initial broadcasts were free, financed presumably by advertising revenue, and it is the time shifting prohibition that Professor Matthew Rimmer of the Australian National University sets out in the ZDNet article referenced here that is in play.