Wednesday, 12 October 2005 10:00

Gadens: High Court ruling a victory for DVD consumers


The 95% of Australians who rent or buy DVDs every year have won a major victory with the High Court of Australia last week ruling that they can not be charged higher prices on the basis of copies being made for commercial use, according to Gadens Lawyers.

The decision relates to Warner Home Video attempting to distinguish the domestic retail and commercial rental markets and charging a higher price for DVDs purchased for rental - flowing onto higher rental charges.

The DVD ruling follows last Week's High Court unanimous verdict in Stevens v Sony, where the manufacturer wanted to divide the international gaming market into different regions. The High Court confirmed the Federal Court's decision in the Australian Video Retailers Association (AVRA) v Warner Home Video case from 2001.

While the Stevens v Sony decision centred on computer games, the decision was also relevant to DVDs as they share similar technology.

Gadens Lawyers' litigation team acted on both the DVD case and the Stevens v Sony case. Sydney managing partner Michael Bradley and senior associate Nathan Mattock were the key advisers to AVRA and Eddy Stevens.

Mattock said: 'The practical effect of the judgments is to make it difficult for the manufacturers to exploit pricing opportunities that a divided market might allow.'

The legal issue that the cases explored is whether the act of playing a computer game or DVD - which necessitates copying data on the Random Access Memory (RAM) of the game console, computer or DVD player - is a breach of copyright.

In both cases, the court determined that by merely playing a game or DVD, the consumer is not making an illegal copy.

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.



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