Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
australia, compilations, copyright, facts, tv guides

Australian Court Says Creating Your Own TV Program Listing Is Copyright Infringement

from the fine,-then-we-won't-watch-tv dept

William Patry points us to a court ruling in Australia that says, in effect, that television program guides are copyrighted material and anyone producing their own program guide needs to license that information from the TV networks. On this, it would appear that Australian law differs from US law, which doesn't consider factual information by itself to be copyrightable. However, the Australian ruling basically found that program guide information isn't quite "factual" information, but "created." Thus the copyright is on the creative decisions the TV network execs made in choosing when to show each show (yes, they're apparently serious about this). If that sounds a bit extreme (and a bit ridiculous), you're not the only one who thinks so. While the court didn't directly address the question, from this ruling it certainly sounds like you could be found to have violated copyright if you just sat in front of your TV and wrote down what played when -- and then predicted a similar schedule going forward.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Jake, May 14th, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    This was actually the law in Britain until 1991, believe it or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, May 14th, 2008 @ 1:52pm

    We are doomed.

    Doomed I say. Doomed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Martin, May 14th, 2008 @ 2:10pm


    Would not that also mean that the streets would be copyrighted to the person / company / office that created them and anyone wanting to draw a map would need a license ?

    How about the guy who planted the tree that gets drawn a lot by art students, how about the guy who put the Hollywood sign up there, would not the film studios need a license to show it in their shows ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Bah who needs one, May 14th, 2008 @ 2:18pm

    Off the topic, but what the hell has happened to freedom-to-tinker? I ask here because it gets linked to fairly often from here ... or rather, it used to, because it seems to be dead now. It stopped working sometime during the weekend (was OK Saturday AM, was not Sunday PM), which is ominous, but it's still not working now. It's been dead for at least 72 hours, including three full workdays, without anyone fixing it.

    Also ominous is that it isn't simply unreachable, which could indicate a problem with their net connection or power. Maybe the bad storms they had in the states recently, or something. But it is reachable, it just returns incorrect responses, which indicates that the problem is some internal misconfiguration rather than a hardware failure or external problem or regional disaster.

    Which means that someone went into their server room in the middle of the weekend, f&@!ed something up while trying to do who-knows-what, and since then nobody (even on the regular 9-5 shift) has cared enough to fix it. (If they had, it would be working by now, since a software misconfiguration, or even a drive failure somewhere, would require at worst that they swap in a replacement part and restore Friday night's backup tapes, which should take hours at most. And webmaster@ bouncing is also a very bad sign.)

    That nobody has cared enough to fix it implies that it's dead, dead, dead. :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Matt, May 14th, 2008 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Hm

    This map thing is happening in China.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    I know this one, May 14th, 2008 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Hm

    Actually, you do need to pay to show the Hollywood sign in a feature film of TV show. I can't remember how much it is, but it isn't free - not even cheap!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), May 14th, 2008 @ 2:47pm

    What is with the Aussies???

    I mean...really.

    Has anyone else noticed the reliably constant stream of stupid internet related laws, lawmaker statements and legal decisions that come from down under? What is it about the bottom half of the Commonwealth that has so much trouble understanding and coping with the Information Age?

    Could it be too much beer, ya-think?

    "The Land of Wonder...The Land Down Under."

    Ummm...I 'Wonder' what nonsense I'll be hearing next outta these Fosters swilling kangaroo punchers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    arty, May 14th, 2008 @ 3:05pm

    Creating Your Own TV Program Listing Is Copyright Infringement

    From what I understand, the whole reason this has gone in front of the courts is because IceTV ( who create program guides for PVRs was sued by the television networks here for providing their guides to IceTV subscribers.

    IceTV then sent and created their own guide not using the descriptions provided by the networks to newspapers and other publications who are permitted to publish the TV guide. They basically did this out of fear that if people can easily record TV shows then ads will get skipped, they will lose revenue, etc, etc.

    Heard it before? It's all the same arguments that were touted when home VCRs were introduced.

    If IceTV can't publish a show guide then the usefulness and ease of use of PVRs (and this includes things like EyeTV and other computer-linked vido recorders) becomes incredibly limited.

    What's next for us, the government making ISPs content filter the internet before it reaches the home to "protect the children"? Oh wait, that's in the pipeline too!

    Please, please, please get me out of here & take me to a country where the people in charge (or at least those who advise them) have a clue about technology!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Overcast, May 14th, 2008 @ 4:35pm

    Yeah, these kind of these are only for the 'official' people the government want running them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2008 @ 11:17pm

    Ok firstly, GeneralEmergency, I don't know where you are from, but you're an idiot. The only people that drink Fosters are Yanks and Poms. Us Aussies can't stand that shit. Also, I have been punched by a kangaroo, not the other way around. But also, please don't lump all Australians under the same generalization you use for the aging, decrepit neanderthals we have for magistrates.

    Anywayz, I'm a MythTV user and rely on public, community driven program guides to keep my system up to date. I think this whole point is completely ridiculous not only for the most obvious reasons, but also because as of January this year, the TV networks started transmitting 7 days of program guides with their digital TV streams.

    I think the problem here is that IceTV was a paying service and the point they are trying to make is it's a bit silly to allow them to charge for something that they are not creating themselves. Still, it's a stupid ruling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Bernie Lomax, May 15th, 2008 @ 4:54am


    GeneralEmergency sez he works 2 miles from Microsoft. Don't blame him for his stupidness... It's in the water.

    I got $2 to start a GeneralEmergency fund. Anyone else in?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Daniƫl Sterenborg, May 15th, 2008 @ 6:06am

    Same counted (past) for the Netherlands; with competition law they managed to get rid of the information monopoly (NOS-Telegraaf, NMA 10 septembre 1998)

    Still it is the way that the Guide is structured remains copyright protected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 15th, 2008 @ 6:32am

    Visiting Austrailia

    Well, I can say that I no longer plan on visiting Austrailia. It was one of the places I would have liked to visit in my life, but not anymore. If I visit, I would 100% be sure to take my camera, and take pictures. But since their government seems to be so weird and every time I hear about the country, it only makes them look more foolish, I am certain that they would confiscate my camera because I would take pictures of where I visited.
    I know I am taking this to an extreme, but honestly, it wouldn't surprise me these days from that country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Video Savant, May 15th, 2008 @ 7:40am

    Same Thing in the UK 20 Years Ago

    In the mid-1980s, a similar dispute arose in the UK. If I remember this correctly, Time Out magazine, which had only previously published selected summaries of recommended shows decided it wanted to print the entire listings for the BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV and Channel 4. Radio Times, a BBC publication, and TV Times, a ITV publication, claimed copyright on the listings and sued Time Out. At that point, you needed to buy one or both of these publications to get listings for the week (daily newspapers were "allowed" to print same-day listings, or in weekend editions, day/next day listings). But RT and TVT were otherwise exclusives/monopolies on weekly listings.

    I can't remember the exact outcome, but I believe that RT and TVT backed down or compromised without actually relying on a court decision. I do remember that public opinion was decidedly with Time Out.

    I Googled for this and only came up with a passing mention here, but maybe there is something deeper in the results:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), May 15th, 2008 @ 3:59pm


    Thank you for setting me straight on Fosters and what Aussies think of parts of their government.

    Now...I simply must hear more about the time you were punched by a Kangaroo.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    dak61, May 15th, 2008 @ 6:11pm

    Re: Visiting Austrailia

    Actually I last government brought in laws that allowed you to be arrested for taking too much interest in public buildings like the opera house. If you take a picture it must be so you can plan the best way to blow it up.
    "Be alert , Not alarmed" was the government motto.
    Yes, we are weird but we are nice, really.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    SunKing, May 16th, 2008 @ 5:44am

    Tie me down sport.

    I wanna hear more about the kangaroo punching !!!!!!!!!!!8

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Khanzza, May 17th, 2008 @ 12:08am

    No bite ear

    I wanna see a kangaroo take on Mike Tyson! =OD

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Todd D., Jul 15th, 2009 @ 1:13pm


    Yeah! Thanks for the information!

    Todd D.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Brian Midd, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Re:Punching by kangeroo`s

    Don`t worry about it, we all get that at one time or another

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.