Optus confirms TV Now appeal

The telco will seek leave to appeal the High Court's ruling against its TV Now service

Optus chief executive, Paul O’Sullivan, has confirmed the telco will seek leave to appeal the High Court’s ruling against its TV Now recording service.

The Federal Court last month found the service, which enables users to record free-to-air programs and play them back on PCs and mobile devices, had breached copyright laws.

The court had overturned an earlier judgment in favour of TV Now, which Sullivan said at the time helped publicise the service.

“We will continue to fight the rights of Australians and not have to pay extra for content already paid for by free-to-air TV and by advertisers simply because of where they choose to watch it or to record it for themselves,” Sullivan said during the company’s Q4 results hearing.

He added that as it is an issue which has “ramifications for all Cloud storage”, Optus is confident the case will go before the High Court to be heard.

“We believe it is an issue of national significance and of importance to the courts, and therefore we’re highly confident that it should get taken up for appeal,” he said.

“I firmly believe that the law is on our side here. We’ve obviously did a detailed investigation of the issues before we launched the service. Legal advice is strongly in our favour that what we’ve done is actually something that Australian consumers have the right to exercise and do.”

Sullivan maintained that the telco had not breached any copyright laws, as the TV Now service was “merely allowing Australians to record those free-to-air broadcasts to watch it at a more convenient on the technology of their choice”.

“It’s really just a modern version of the video recorder that many people have had under their TV for years,” he said.

“We are not selling content; we are selling the ability to store and record, and the charges we pass onto customers are reflective of the costs of the storage and so on.”

He also said that copyright laws needed to “keep up with the times” and commended the government for undertaking a review into the current copyright law, which was initiated due to this case.

“The review, which is being kicked off by the Attonery-General, into the way that content should be distributed and managed and what sort of copyright is appropriate, we think is the right way to proceed and the right way to go,” Sullivan said.

“I would assume that government will take the output of that very seriously and we’ll be heavily influenced by what the findings are.”

The AFL and NRL first brought the case against Optus due to complaints the TV Now service infringed on its copyright broadcast rights.

Telstra had signed a $153 million, five-year deal for exclusive online and mobile rights for AFL matches, with the NRL negotiating its next round of broadcast rights.

Earlier this month, the Australian Digital Alliance said the case could have wider implications for Cloud-based services.

Ellen Broad told Computerworld Australia at the time that the Federal Court’s decision could also mean Cloud service providers could be found to be in breach of the Copyright Act if it copies and stores illegally obtained music or video recordings.

“If consumers are storing copies of music that have been downloaded unlawfully, perhaps because the copies that the Cloud service provider has to make for the Cloud has been gained via unauthorised file sharing, then there could be liability there,” she said.

The company released its full-year results this morning, which achieved an operating revenue of $9.37 billion, up 1 per cent, and an EBITDA of $2.36 billion, up 2 per cent for the full year to 31 March 2012. Net profit for the year was up 2 per cent to $787 million.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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