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High Court presses “pause” in dispute over TVCatchup

25 July 2011

The dispute between broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Five and online streaming company TV Catchup has been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

TVCatchup provides a quasi-live service, relaying free-to-air TV channels to UK members. ITV (etc) claimed that this infringed their copyright by “communicating to the public”, by electronic transmission, their films and broadcasts. TVCatchup argued that the relevant legislation had been amended improperly and was therefore invalid.

The judge provisionally found that the transmissions were “communicating to the public”, although he thought that they only reproduced a substantial part of ITV’s films, not of their broadcasts; also, for some reproductions TVCatchup may have a defence of “incidental” copying. However, he felt these issues needed clarification from the ECJ.

A final judgment may be years away allowing TVCatchup in the meantime to continue profiting from its services and must surely be a bitter pill to swallow for the broadcasters.

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