An international TV distributor is seeking to have major Australian broadband providers block their customers from using the Reelplay set-top box and an associated Internet-based subscription service.
The company, International Media Distribution (IMD), is registered in Luxembourg but mainly operates in the North American market.
It describes itself as the “leading aggregator and marketer of niche television services to various ethnic communities around the globe, having strong global presence and key distribution platforms, in the North American territory”.
IMD says it has the distribution rights for more than 40 Arabic and Italian TV channels. It distributes them through cable, satellite, digital terrestrial broadcasts, as well as through IPTV and broadband services in a number of markets.
Court documents filed by IMD also list as an applicant Overlook Management BV, a distributor of TV programming registered in the Netherlands, and Al Jadeed (NewTV), a TV station in Lebanon. (The court file itself only lists IMD and Outlook Management as applicants, however.)
The applicants claim that Reelplay supports unauthorised streaming of 15 channels of which they are either the owner or exclusive licensee.
Reelplay claims to offer access to more than 55 Italian, 45 Greek and 450 Arabic TV channels. In addition to purchasing the device itself, a user needs to pay for a six- or 12-month subscription, with separate Greek, Italian and Arabic IPTV services.
Reelplay says that it can deliver its set-top box anywhere in the world and that it has “dispatch locations” in the Australia and New Zealand, as well as Canada, the US and Europe. A number of reseller sites offer the device in Australia.
IMD wants to have ISPs block nine domains and subdomains, which it divides into four categories, all allegedly connected with Reelplay: Sites that provide the set-top box with access to software updates, sites providing an electronic program guide, streaming services and sites that allow a Reel Play device to be purchased and/or registered.
Telstra, Optus, Vocus, TPG and Vodafone Hutchison Australia are listed as respondents. If the orders are granted, then the telcos and their subsidiaries (including major brands such as iiNet, Internode and Dodo) will have to take reasonable steps to block their customers from accessing the target online locations.
Comment was sought from IMD and Reelplay.
The application by IMD cites two previous successful actions that targeted unauthorised set-top box streaming services. In April last year Village Roadshow obtained orders blocking an Android app, HDSubs+, designed for use on set-top boxes.
In September, Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) was successful in its application for a site-blocking injunction that targeted domains used by the Android-based A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5 set-top boxes.
In addition to the IMD action, currently the Federal Court is considering two other site-blocking applications. One has been brought by Roadshow, a group of major film studios and local entertainment distributor Madman. That action seeks to block 99 domains allegedly linked to online piracy. The operator of one of those sites has argued that it is a legitimate online service.
The other application is backed by the music industry and targets so-called ‘stream ripping’ sites that allow the audio tracks of YouTube videos to be downloads.