iiNet joins Optus in streaming TV fight

Internet service provider, iiNet, is joining Optus in its fight for the right to stream pre-recorded TV content

iiNet has come out swinging against proposed plans by the Federal Government to prohibit internet companies from streaming pre-recorded TV content to mobile devices.

The internet service provider (ISP) has thrown its support behind Optus which was in the High Court this week to defend an appeal by the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL) and Telstra over last month’s Federal Court decision that Optus's TV Now service did not breach the Copyright Act of 1968 and was no different to personal video recording services such as Foxtel IQ.

In February, Optus corporate and government affairs general manager, Clare Gill, argued in the High Court that the Copyright Act 2006 effectively allowed ISPs to stream TV services. Optus chief executive, Paul O’Sullivan, said the court case had also worked to further publicise the service which enables users to record free-to-air television and watch the footage later on a smartphone, tablet or PC.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia about its decision to back Optus' High Court Appeal, iiNet chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, said iiNet intended to eventually launch its own streaming TV service and the ISP is currently conducting research into streaming TV.

“The notion of blocking content is crazy because you can’t stop convergence,” Dalby said. “Here we have free-to-air TV services being time shifted by customers on a mobile phone.”

Dalby said that while both the Federal Government and the Opposition had concerns about Optus winning the Federal Court case, most Australians saw the decision as a solution to their desire for content independent of device or medium.

“There is demand for [streaming TV] and an opportunity for us to build a service around streaming TV,” Dalby said. "If companies like Optus and iiNet can provide that service at a reasonable cost, there will be great take up.”

Dalby said that the ISP planned to discuss the issue with both the Federal Government and Opposition parties and pointed out that many Australians viewed smartphones and tablets as ideal devices for viewing content.

In February, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) decided to conduct a review into the use of copyright in a digital setting.

The inquiry will consider whether the exceptions in the Federal Copyright Act 1968, which was amended in 2006, are adequate and appropriate in the digital environment.

These exceptions include fair dealing and private copying when time-shifting or for special purposes.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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