Streaming live on the internet case referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Mr Justice Floyd handed down a further judgment in the High Court this week in the case of ITV Broadcasting Ltd and others v TV Catchup Ltd concerning infringement and various defences under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in relation to live streaming over the internet.

The Claimants are a collection of well known broadcasters and TV content providers who alleged that the Defendant, TVC had infringed copyrights in their broadcasts by communicating those broadcasts to the public by electronic transmission.

This consisted of TVC running a website which allowed viewers to watch live United Kingdom television including broadcasts by ITV on their computers, smart phones and games consoles. In order to do this, the viewer was required to become a member of TVC, which gave the viewer the option to choose one of 50 or more channels. The viewer, having made their choice, would be taken to a new screen on which TVC provided a stream of the programme being broadcast.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988  protects films and broadcasts as a work of copyright unless it is excepted by section 6(1A) of the Act, which excludes internet transmissions from being broadcasts. Unless one of the exceptions apply namely:-

1. Transmissions taking place simultaneously on the internet and by other means.

2. Concurrent transmissions of a live event.

3. Transmissions of recorded moving images or sounds which form part of a scheduled programme service.

The Defendants denied infringement and relied on a defence that permits the cable re-transmission of some broadcasts within their intended reception areas (under section 73 of the Act 1988.

The case continues as Mr Justice Floyd has now referred the case for some clarification on issues arising from previous decisions made by the Court of Justice of the European Union.