Wednesday, 22 April 2009 06:09

IceTV slays Nine in High Court EPG victory

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Small Australian electronic TV guide provider IceTV has won a historic 'David versus Goliath' victory over one of the country's media giants. IceTV has won the TV program guide copyright case brought by the Nine Network three years ago.

Please see the updated version of this story.

The High Court ruled in IceTV's favour this morning, bringing to a close a case that's been dragging on for three years.

"I would like to thank all our shareholders, our staff, our customers and our business partners," said IceTV chairman and major shareholder Colin O'Brien.

"Without their support during the last three years IceTV would not have survived.

"IceTV now looks forward to a successful future bringing both free to air TV and content via various partners to viewers in a way that satisfies viewer demand, whilst embracing the future of digital free to air television in Australia."

The history of the matter is that IceTV had been supplying an EPG for around a year when the Nine Network began proceedings in May 2006 alleging copyright infringement of its schedule.

This development occurred shortly after Nine acquired HWW, a TV guide aggregator and supplier to print and online media.

Why is the case important? Find out on page 2.


In August 2007, the Federal Court found in IceTV's favour, but the litigation had already spiked the company's attempt to go public.

Nine appealed the decision, and in May 2008 the full bench of the Federal Court reversed the verdict.

IceTV was granted special leave to appeal to the High Court, which heard the case in October 2008.

Meanwhile, IceTV altered its practices to comply with the Federal Court's ruling.

An effective and comprehensive EPG is key to the effective use of PVRs and similar computer-based products.

There have been reports that the free to air stations will move to a proprietary format for the Freeview digital TV EPG, and only license it for use on devices that do not allow ad-skipping.

This makes the availability of an independent EPG - even if it is available only on subscription - important for many ordinary viewers.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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