TVCatchup, the website that re-transmits broadcast UK TV over the internet, has been dealt a blow after a court ruled it cannot stream live TV without permission of the TV broadcasters.
The website which allows free members to stream a selection of live UK TV channels on the web, such as BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel Five is fighting a long running legal battle brought against it by the broadcasters including ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
The European Court of Justice said yesterday that the networks being authors of the streamed content, do have the rights to forbid it being used by others. The court ruled that the website, “can’t escape the authorisation of the copyright holders” and has to be given permission to continue streaming.
The ECJ continued, “EU law seeks to establish a high level of protection for authors of works, allowing them to obtain an appropriate reward for the use of those works. Television broadcasters may prohibit the retransmission of their programmes by another company via the internet.”
Although TVCatchup have claimed to not be breaking copyright law by re-transmitting the free-to-air broadcasts, and claim that re-streaming was not “broadcasting” as it is one to one, and not one to many and therefore don’t constitute “broadcasting”.
Talking about the judgement, the broadcasters said in a statement, “ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 welcome the judgment by the European court of justice. The judgment makes it clear that, subject to some limited defences, broadcasters and content producers should be able to prevent unauthorised streaming of free-to-air channels. We now look forward to the UK court’s implementation of this judgment. We reserve the right to pursue any site or service we believe to be infringing our copyright or using our content in an unlicensed, illegal capacity.”
For TVCatchup, director Bruce Pilley remained bullish and claimed the ruling will only affect around 30% of their output. He said, “TVCatchup.com is here to stay, we are not thinly disguised purveyors of filth, we remain Europe’s first and only legal internet cable service and the ECJ opinion affects only a handful of channels we carry.”
The verdict could have repercussions for other re-streaming websites. And although TVCatchup appears to be currently running as normal, we will see how long it is before they start removing content.