The English High Court has ordered TVCatchup to stop some of its services after ruling that they infringed the copyright of broadcasters.
TVCatchup is a television streaming service that allows users to watch TV channels “live” online. However, following legal action from ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, the service was found to infringe the broadcasters’ film and broadcast copyrights and it will no longer be able to stream their digital and catch-up television channels. TVCatchup is also prohibited from streaming the main ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 networks to mobile devices via mobile telephone networks.
The Order from the High Court comes after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in March 2013 that streaming television broadcasts online without broadcasters’ consent is an infringement of copyright (see our commentary here).
Although TVCatchup can no longer stream the broadcasters’ digital channels (and has provided links to redirect its visitors to the broadcasters’ websites in respect of these channels), it was successful in establishing a limited defence to the infringement claims, allowing it to continue to stream the main ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 services via its website and on mobile devices via WiFi. However, as the Order and previous rulings in this case suggest this is due to an incompatibility between European law and national law in England, this limited “loophole” may yet be revisited by legislators.
Whilst the broadcasters naturally welcomed the decision and the message it projects to those who seek to use their content without authorisation, TVCatchup was bullish about the outcome. It stated that the loss of the channels in question made up only a small percentage of its viewing figures, although it did acknowledge that its users would now have fewer viewing options. It remains to be seen whether TVCatchup will choose to appeal the ruling.
The Order from the English High Court can be read in full here.