Simpsons Solicitors

Optus to fight the NRL and AFL over cloud storage of sports programs

September 1st 2011

Closely following a benchmark decision in the US on cloud music services, Australia is set to host its own cloud storage lawsuit in the Federal Court – with internet service provider Optus pitched against the National Rugby League and Australian Football League.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Optus has launched a pre-emptive action designed to show that its TV Now service is not infringing the copyright of the NRL and AFL. The TV Now service allows users to record free-to-air TV programs on Optus’s computer servers (an example of cloud storage) and then view them within 30 days using a web browser.

From the sports bodies’ perspective, the rights to screen the programs in question are sold to broadcasters and internet TV services for large amounts of money, and Optus’ TV Now service is making money from their intellectual property, free of charge. Optus takes the view that it is trading in storage, not content. The court will decide which of the parties is right.

As reported in the Australian Copyright Council’s August News Service, a US court handed down a split decision in a copyright case involving MP3Tunes and EMI Music Group on August 22, which has significant implications for Google, Amazon and others in the burgeoning cloud storage business in the US.

While District Judge William Pauley ruled that MP3Tunes had infringed copyright in relation to certain specific works (referred to in letters from EMI), he also found that for the most part, the service was protected by the US safe harbour rules of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. In addition to relying on the safe harbor provisions for its defence, MP3Tunes also raised questions about whether the storage and streaming of files owned by users needed permission from rights holders in the first place.

Click here to read the Sydney Morning Herald story.

To read more about this story go to: http://www.copyright.org.au/news-and-policy/details/id/2003/

For inquiries relating to publishing and copyright law please contact Adam Simpson.