Australian Law Reform Commission to be next battleground for Optus TV Now

The High Court denied Optus a chance to appeal the decision, which may have implications for cloud storage.

The Australian Digital Alliance plans to take copyright issues surrounding the Optus TV Now recording service to the Australian Law Reform Commission, according to the Alliance’s executive director, Ellen Broad

The High Court this morning denied Optus a chance to appeal a Federal Court judgment against the TV Now service, which lets users record free-to-air programs and play them on PCs and mobile devices. Optus had sought leave to appeal in the High Court.

The case could have implications for cloud storage, which is how TV Now stored the free-to-air TV shows. Optus had argued that if the Copyright Act allows people to record shows on videotape or DVRs, it should also be legal to store them on the cloud.

“We are very disappointed with the decision not to consider the time-shifting provisions of the Copyright Act and the impact this has on cloud services,” Broad told Computerworld Australia. “It’s clear now more than ever that our current copyright framework is impeding cloud computing services at a time when Australia is looking to embrace the cloud to deliver new services and enable innovation in the digital economy.”

The Digital Alliance “will be bringing this up very strongly in the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into copyright because they specifically ask whether — and they cite the Optus TV Now case — Australian copyright law is impeding the development of cloud computing.”

The commission has set a deadline for comments by this November. The commission won’t reach a decision until November 2013.

Optus also is looking ahead to the ALRC inquiry, said Optus regulatory affairs vice president, David Epstein.

“This is a very important public policy issue that still needs to be resolved to give clarity to both consumers and the industry," Epstein said in a statement.

“People are increasingly wanting to watch TV when they want, where they want and on what they want. But the law as it stands imposes an arbitrary distinction between technologies.

“Online storage is here and with us now so we think it’s time to confront the realities of that,” he said. “We can’t shut ourselves off from the world.”

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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