Hong Kong TV company seeks to block illicit set-top box streaming in Australia

TVB launches court action to block Internet-based streaming of broadcasts

Hong Kong broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) has launched Federal Court action in Australia seeking to force ISPs to block their customers from using Internet-connected set-top boxes to stream TVB’s broadcasts.

“Television Broadcasts Limited can confirm that we have commenced legal action in Australia to protect our copyright,” a TVB spokesperson told Computerworld.

According to TVB, a Hong Kong stock exchange-listed TV broadcaster and producer, every year it produces 700 hours of dramas and over 23,000 hours of “news, variety, travelogue, and information/entertainment programmes”.

The company declined to provide any details on its application for a site-blocking injunction, but documents filed with the Federal Court cite a range of TVB copyright material including “cinematograph films” — Dead Wrong, episode 1; May Fortune Smile On You, episode 1; Witness Insecurity, episode 1 — as well as the company’s five free-to-air TV channels: Jade, TVB News, Pearl, TVB Finance, and J2.

TVB is seeking to have Telstra, Optus, Vocus and TPG, as well as the companies’ subsidiaries, block access to 21 individual URLs that it says are used by set-top boxes — dubbed “illicit streaming devices” or ISDs in the application — to stream its copyright material.

The application cites seven Android-based ISDs: A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.

TVB is seeking court orders modelled on those handed down in response to past site-blocking applications by Foxtel, Village Roadshow and music labels.

Based on previous cases, the ISPs are unlikely to oppose TVB’s application.

In November, Roadshow lodged its third application for injunction, which also targets a streaming service: An Android-app called HDSubs+ used by set-top boxes.

The entertainment company wants to block 10 URLs associated with HDSubs+.

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