Television and internet broadcasting could be changed forever after telecommunications company Optus won a milestone Federal Court case on Wednesday.
The number two telco can continue screening TV shows and live sport (albeit a 90-second delay) for free on mobile platforms after the ruling was handed down against rival Telstra.
The service, launched in July last year, enables customers to record free-to-air TV programs (including AFL and NRL) and play them back on four compatible devices – namely, PCs, Apple devices, Android devices and 3G devices. The recordings are stored on a cloud storage platform.
Telstra, along with the AFL and NRL, alleged that Optus' TV Now service was infringing its copyright. Telstra reportedly paid $153 million to the AFL to stream games via mobile technology.
However, Justice Steven Rares found the Optus service did not breach copyright laws. He said the service was similar to an individual choosing to record a television program with a video cassette recorder (VCR) or digital video recorder (DVR), which is allowed under copyright legislation.
"Even though Optus provided all the significant technology for making, keeping and playing the recording, I considered that in substance this was no different to a person using equipment or technology in his or her home or elsewhere to copy or record a broadcast. I noted that a similar result had been reached by appeal courts in the United States and Singapore."
The football codes are expected to appeal the judgment after the AFL inked a $153 million mobile deal with Telstra and the court matter could put a stop on the NRL signing similar agreements.
If the appeal goes pear-shaped then other major mobile companies are likely to jump on the bandwagon to compete against Optus.
The full ruling can be read here.