News      |      Events

Legal dispute over broadcasts to smart devices

Thursday 15 Sep 2011
A major dispute is looming between Australian telecommunication companies Optus and Telstra over broadcasts to smart devices and the Internet, ABC News reports.

The Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) allege Optus is infringing copyright by broadcasting matches online with a two-minute delay.

But Optus says the claims are unjustified because the games are only playbacks of free-to-air matches.

Telstra says the court’s decision could jeopardise its A$153 million (US$157.8 million) broadcast deal with the AFL. It wants Optus to stop providing telecasts of AFL matches to its Internet and phone customers via the use of cloud technology.

The technology enables the game to be recorded and viewed via devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets just minutes after it was shown live.

Luke Hopewell, a technology commentator at ZD Net Australia, says it is uncharted territory for broadcasting in Australia.

“You can tell the (Optus) service what to record from free-to-air television and then stream it back to your device at a time that’s more convenient for you,” he said.

“It’s a copyright matter. What we’re looking at here is a different kind of taping and a different kind of format shifting.”

The only problem is Telstra has a deal with the AFL to provide the games to its customers; it is also presently negotiating a deal with the NRL.

Optus says the AFL and NRL have alleged it is infringing copyright, so it has turned to the Federal Court to try to stop the two codes from suing it for breach of copyright.