Federal Court prepares for Optus TV Now appeal

 

Two days set down in March.

The Federal Court has set down two days in March to hear an appeal against the court's controversial finding that Optus' TV Now service did not infringe the copyright of the AFL and NRL sporting codes.

Separate notices of appeal lodged last week by the AFL (supported by Telstra) and NRL codes claimed the primary judge Justice Steven Rares had erred in his judgment that the free-to-air TV recording service was not illegal.

Justice Rares found that TV recordings made using the service qualified for the same "time-shifting" copyright exemptions added to legislation in 2006 as those using a VCR or personal video recorder.

The court today set down the two dates for both appeals to be heard by a full court bench - Justices Paul Finn, Arthur Emmett and Annabelle Bennett - on March 14 and 15, 2012.

Though Optus had initiated court action in an attempt to solidify legal principles potentially affecting the service, the sporting codes and Telstra have since taken to proactively fighting the service and Justice Rares' decision.

The decision, which puts a five-year, $153 million exclusive broadcast contract between Telstra and AFL at risk, has since prompted discussions between the sporting codes and the Federal Government on potential changes to broadcast and copyright legislation.

An eventual decision made through a Federal Court appeal or potential High Court judgment could also have ramifications for the onus placed on cloud providers around copyright.

Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan this week claimed the judgment was a "positive" for the industry and consumers.

"Australians have a lot at stake in the new digital era," he said.

"Therefore it's essential to get the regulatory settings right. We cannot allow the digital future to be dictated to by any one interest, we must take all interests and the well-being of the wider community into account."

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