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Thursday, 02 February 2012 17:58

Court victory about copyright not content rights, says Optus

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Optus has moved to play down the implications of the copyright ruling on its 'TV Now' service for lucrative deals covering exclusive rights to deliver popular free-to-air content to mobile devices

The Federal Court in Sydney yesterday ruled that the Optus TV Now service, which enables Optus mobile customers to record any free to air TV program 'in the cloud' for later playback on their PC, Mac or Optus mobile device, did not breach the Copyright Act.

However almost all coverage of the judgement has focussed on the implications for Telstra's $153m deal giving it exclusive access to deliver AFL and NRL content to mobile phones, and for similar deals.

This has prompted Optus CEO, Paul O'Sullivan to issue a statement saying: "For Optus, yesterday's court decision was about defending the rights of consumers and not about the rights in specific categories of television'¦This decision is reflective of what has already happened in other parts of the world and Australians can now continue to enjoy the convenience that rapidly changing technologies are affording them."

Even thought the delay between recording and playback can be as little as two minutes, O'Sullivan maintained that "An important clarification is that this product is not a live streaming service; it is a solution that allows you to record, store and play back free to air television at a time more convenient to users."

"For Optus" the decision may well be about copyright, but for owners of highly prized content, like sport, the decision has the potential to deprive them of millions of dollars of revenue.

According to at least one commentator the loss could threaten the financial viability of some sporting organisations.

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