Streaming content over the internet capable of copyright infringement
In a recent decision, the CJEU made it clear that streaming of content over the internet can constitute copyright infringement (see the case of ITV and others v. TVCatchup). In this preliminary reference procedure, the referring court (i.e., the High Court of Justice of England and Wales) had asked the CJEU whether the concept of ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29, must be interpreted as meaning that it covers a retransmission of the works included in a terrestrial television broadcast:
– where the retransmission is made by an organisation other than the original broadcaster,
– by means of an internet stream made available to the subscribers of that other organisation who may receive the retransmission by logging on to its server,
– on the assumption that those subscribers are within the area of reception of the terrestrial television broadcast and may lawfully receive the broadcast on a television receiver.
The CJEU answered in the affirmative to this question. In other words, the CJEU considers online streaming services as a 'communication to the public', and thus capable of constituting copyright infringement.
As to the facts of the case, this is a victory for the commercial UK broadcasters in their legal battle against TVCatchup ('TVC'), which used to distribute over the internet (and substantially in real time) television broadcast signals transmitted and owned by the UK broadcasters. The case will now return to the national UK court for further consideration on the application of the CJEU preliminary ruling.
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Author: Bart Van Besien
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