Two international distributors of TV channels have been told to expect scrutiny of their attempt to block online services associated with an IPTV set-top box even if they are relying on what “may be a predictable non-appearance” by the company that distributes the device.
Representatives of International Media Distribution and Lebanese TV station New TV (Al Jadeed) this morning appeared at a Federal Court case management hearing as part of legal action seeking to block the use in Australia of the Reelplay set-top box.
The two applicants allege that Reelplay allows unauthorised streaming of TV channels of which they are either the owner or the exclusive licensee.
Presiding judge Justice Burley said that he would pay “particularly close attention” to proof of service and that the applicants should ensure that “all the requirements” of Section 115a of the Copyright Act — which facilitates court-imposed website blocks to tackle piracy — are met.
So far the operators of services targeted for blocks under s115a are yet to appear in any cases brought by copyright holders. Most responses from site-operators to legal action have tended to be disregarded by the court as insignificant; one exception is the operator of a Greek-language movie website targeted in a separate application currently before the court who has written to the presiding judge in that case.
IMD is a Luxembourg-registered TV distributor that claims it is “leading aggregator and marketer of niche television services to various ethnic communities around the globe”. The company primarily operates in the North American market.
IMD and New TV claim that Reelplay allows the unauthorised streaming of 15 channels of which they are either the owner or exclusive licensee.
Reelplay has a subscription model: As well as purchasing a set-top box, a user needs to pay for a six- or 12-month subscription. There are separate Greek, Italian and Arabic packages available. The service offers around 450 Arabic TV channels, as well as 45 Greek and 55 Italian TV channels.
Reelplay offers worldwide shipping for its set-top boxes, and its “dispatch locations” include Australia and New Zealand. There are also Australian-based resellers of the device.
There have been two previous actions seeking to block unauthorised set-top box streaming in Australian courts, both of which were successful. One was led by Village Roadshow which last year obtained orders blocking an Android set-top box app, HDSubs+.
The other was brought by Hong Kong company Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) which obtained a site-blocking injunction intended to prevent the use of a number of Android set-top boxes: A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.
Also currently before the Federal Court are two other site-blocking applications. One was launched by music labels and seeks to block ‘stream ripping’ sites that allow the audio tracks of YouTube videos to be downloaded.
Another action, brought by Roadshow, a group of major film studios and an Australian entertainment distributor, seeks to block 99 domains allegedly linked to online piracy (including the aforementioned Greek movie website).