Federal Court Judge Says Pirate IPTV Blocking Is Not A Slam Dunk Case

By Nitish Singh / May 2, 2018

A Federal Court Judge in Australia is not making things easy for Hong Kong-based broadcasting company Television Broadcasts Limited. The company wants protection in Australia against unauthorized IPTV services. The broadcaster has filed a case for IPTV blocking of Android-based services A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.

The court ruled that unlike streaming portals and torrent sites that have been blocked earlier in Australia, blocking IPTV services is not that simple. TVB not only requested to block internet locations but also the hosting services that host the apps.


Image Courtesy of XBMC

It is also unclear if China-based live programming is eligible for copyright protection in Australia. China is not part of the 1961 Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations. It would receive protection only if it were part of the organization.

Justice Nicolas of the Federal Court said in April: “If most of what is occurring here is a reproduction of broadcasts that are not protected by copyright, then the primary purpose is not to facilitate copyright infringement.

The TVB returned to the Federal Court for a scheduled hearing for its appeal for IPTV blocking. The ISPs did not show up, forcing the legal team of the broadcasters to battle against Justice Nicolas alone according to ComputerWorld. The judge stated, “the purpose of this system [the set-top boxes] is to make available a broadcast that’s not copyright protected in this country, in this country.” “If 10 percent of the content was infringing content, how could you say the primary purpose is infringing copyright?” he asked.

Despite the Judge’s observations, TVB believes that the IPTV companies infringe upon the company’s rights. TVB counsel Julian Cooke told the court that the broadcasts are reproduced on foreign servers before being broadcasted to set-top boxes in Australia. This same feature is also available in IPTV services which makes TVB question the nature of these 'live' broadcasts. Judge Nicolas ruled that his ruling could take a couple of months after close examination.

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