Australian Network Says Electronic Publishing Guide Violates Their Copyright

from the but-of-course dept

With media companies in the US choking off TiVo’s freedom to innovate, it’s no surprise to see similar stories around the globe. Ivars writes in to point out that Australian TV company Nine Networks has decided to sue a startup who makes electronic program guides, citing copyright infringement. The startup, IceTV makes electronic program guides that make it easier for people to turn computers into more fully functional TiVo-like DVRs. Nine Networks apparently doesn’t like that, because like too many TV industry execs, its execs fear “time shifting” and the fact that it could lead people to (gasp!) skip commercials. Of course, this is fighting the tide, but considering they have the money to do so (and the startup doesn’t), it seems worth their effort. That’s short term thinking, likely to be defeated in the long term, but no one ever accused entertainment execs of being good about long term strategy. It’s unclear what the specifics of Australian law are, and how they apply to this case, but it seems fairly ridiculous that something like a TV schedule (factual information about the date and time when a certain TV show will air) can be protected by copyright. It’s not as if the networks need extra incentives to create the artistic work that is the network TV schedule. Of course, here in the US, we had a similar battle that went down over patent lines, as Gemstar claimed to own a patent on interactive program guides, which kept the actual networks out of the battle and simply wasted the time of everyone else. As an editorial in Australia notes on the latest case, it’s all of the viewers who lose out — and that’s hardly the point of intellectual property protection.

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Comments on “Australian Network Says Electronic Publishing Guide Violates Their Copyright”

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claire rand says:


i could have sworn that once the time table is published *anyone* can re-print that information, but reviews, comment etc on the programs are a no-no, as probably are any pictures used. but the basic info should be ok.

this sort of stuff pops up from time to time, i think the UK lottery had an ‘issue’ with networks other than the BBC relaying the winning numbers as they came on screen.

i can see why the tv types are scared.. if people get this stuff on line not only will they skip adverts on telly, they’ll miss the rubbish in the tv mags

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: ITV have found a way to combat this in the UK

I think that directv is starting to do something like that here in the states as well. There have been times where I would set my TiVo to record something and when I go back to watch it later its a totally different program. If it only happened a few times I’d overlook it but it seems to happen more and more often these. And the shame it I bought my TiVo box from directv…

Mike F.M says:


It will be interesting to see how this one turns out. If they do win, I wonder if it will spur other similar tv companies to go after the larger players such as M$…but I doubt they will.

Eventually all of the tv and music companies will have to start looking longer-term and actually doing things that consumers might find helpful…wishful thinking

Rob from Oz (profile) says:

TV guide fiction

“…that something like a TV schedule (factual information about the date and time when a certain TV show will air) can be protected by copyright.” Anyone who watches commercial television in Australia can tell you that the published TV guide information from the networks are a work of fiction anyway (and hence under copyright!)

TV viewers here long for factual information about dates and times. Unlike ITV in the UK, the start and finish times for Australian TV shows are more typically either late or very late. Series episodes are often run out of order, or not at all. The only thing you can rely on is the frequency of the ads.

More seriously, it will be an interesting battle. I believe it has long been assumed that the TV guide information is copyright here (in Australia), but that has not really been tested – and the guide information is widely disseminated in unaffiliated paper-based guides.

Stevo says:

hear in Tasmania a state of Australia .on digital tv it only displays what’s on now and next, i though this was due to laziness on the networks behalf but after reading this it is clear why they do that. but although having a digitalized guide would help with automation no having it will not stop it. u can still set up a hdd recorder with a time delay like u can with a vcr all they are achieving is making it harder for the consumer to do what they want and turns them against the network and in the end not watch there shows at all.

Faz says:


Does any one ever think how comfortable it is for a person like me to get a TV guide schedule on my digital crappy Comcast. helps me plan my slow evenings and tune into shows I like.. helps me relax.. but no… why, why would a big TV company ever think of comfort for a poor sod like me… why… oh lord.. me being comfortable might make me loyal to some TV shows… and since ill never miss them… ads can not be shown to me.. woahh…

freaking idiots

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: Comcast, Direct TV?

That may be true. Cuz if directv tried a delay on a big show like perhaps Heroes then you can safely bet that NBC was sue them into oblivion…unless they are in on it. The problem is that networks are now more concerned with making money on ads than they are with trying keep good shows on the air. And considering the downwrd spiral that the quality of shows is going into these days can the networks really afford to spend its time and money on making sure the viewers are forced to watch ads.

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