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.