ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 take TVCatchup to the European Court of Justice...

23 November 2011

Bitterwallet-Len-Dastard-featuredHola amigos! It is I, Len Dastard – El Bastardo, Murderer of Dreams. For those of you who do not know, I am a full time Litigation Executive and imaginary retired Mexican wrestler. You doubt my story niños? You are brave.

For our readers that have not been following this story, we brought you this news in July which television streaming website TVCatchup considered themselves to be victorious in a long running legal battle with UK broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

It was the broadcasters claim that TVCatchup were using material that they did not own the rights to. The response from TVCatchup was that they were only making temporary copies (then relaying free to air TV channels to users via computers and smartphones) of this material and that was a lawful use. In a recent ruling in the High Court, Mr Justice Floyd affirmed his earlier provisional ruling that the reproduction by the the creation of "rolling copies" of broadcasts in TVCatchups "memory buffers" and then on its members screens did not amount to a reproduction or copy of the broadcasts and TVCatchup.

It might seem quite strange but UK copyright laws do not make "temporary copies" unlawful if the are "transient or incidental" to the whole works and are made in order to ensure the programme is technically broadcast with "no independent significance".  Mr Justice Floyd based his provisional ruling in July on the fact that the section of stored video was approximately 30 to 40 seconds long.

The only outstanding question in which Mr Justice Floyd thought required further clarification from the European Courts of Justice was in relation to whether there has been a "communication to the public" which is in contravention to UK copyright laws. It is likely to be some time before this is all dealt with.

Got any issues that you would like Len Dastard to consider? Get in touch - [email protected]



  • Pizza A.
    I don't understand this bit: " Mr Justice Floyd based his provisional ruling in July on the fact that the section of stored video was approximately 30 to 40 seconds long." I thought TVcatchup showed episodes of tv programmes.... how many episodes are 30 to 40 seconds long...? Can someone clarify what the heck this is meant to mean?
  • Len D.
    Its all down to the "memory buffer". I am not an expert in computer sciences but this is something which might answer how it works - "In computer science, a buffer is a region of a physical memory storage used to temporarily hold data while it is being moved from one place to another. Typically, the data is stored in a buffer as it is retrieved from an input device (such as a mouse) or just before it is sent to an output device (such as speakers). However, a buffer may be used when moving data between processes within a computer." Maybe someone with more knowledge can expand on that ^
  • JonB
    I'd hazard a guess that the way their system works is that it copies 30-40 seconds from the TV channels into a local file store buffer and then re-transmits it to their customers in immediately while recording the next bit of video, etc. Therefore the stored video is only 30-40 seconds long and this gets around the copyright law.
  • Mike
    It basically means that if you lose signal for a few seconds then you can restart at the point you lost the signal (within 30-40 seconds).
  • Stu
    What is strange is... The BBC want their programming to be available to as many people as possible and the it unique position means that their channels being available on tvcatchup is a good thing. For the commercial channels, well they want people to see their adverts, catchuptv does not cut the adverts it just broadcasts in a different way! If I connect a tv card to my PC and watch ITV or FIVE through the receiver.... Well why is the fact that catchuptv let's me do it without the over the air signal an issue!! All of the channels on catchuptv are free to air!! What next ITV sue Sony because I can use their telly to watch ITV programming???? bizarre!!!
  • Jon
    While iPlayer, 4OD, ITVplayer etc are all free right now, they may want to charge in the future either individually or as part of a larger media player that could include for example all channels and on demand. What I want is to be able to view all channels from one app or site; TVCatchup provides this. It's all about the broadcasters controlling how we view their content.
  • mikestevens
    Oh dear lord... what a muddle you have got yourself in here!!! For a start the broadcasters are not taking TVCatchup to Europe, one part of the case has been referred by Justice Floyd for clarification from the European Court, read on: The broadcasters sought an injunction to stop TV Catchup, in streaming their live channels. Justice Floyd ruled provisionally this summer but deferred some judgements and said he would refer others to the CJEU. ****Now he has ruled on the matters…**** <--- important TVC streams don’t copy films *Win 1.* Now the result is in of a parallel case, Floyd has ruled that, though TV Catchup’s servers do reproduce substantial parts of films, it had not been proved that the site, as a “rolling” (streaming) service, holds substantially large fragments of those films on its servers at any one time. TVC not copying broadcasts *referred* After this summer’s provisional ruling about TV Catchup’s broadcasts themselves, Justice Floyd also rules: “I cannot see any basis on which it can sensibly be argued that there is a reproduction of a substantial part of a broadcast except on the rolling basis.” He declined to refer the matter to the CJEU. TVC has a partial defence *Win 2* This summer, Floyd had said TV Catchup could defend itself under Section 73 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, which allows services to retransmit broadcasts over cable. But that only applies if it broadcasts channels’ regionalised streams to corresponding regions, and not over mobile. The broadcasters had appealed to the judge to refer this point to the European court. But Floyd has rejected their call, saying: “I think this is a veiled attempt to ask the CJEU to construe the provision of national law… There is no real scope for doubt.” Stick with the people who know about this case, as they were the one's in court: tvcatchup have won a significant case here and I rather surprised how so many people have missed it!
  • andy y.
    If ran a TVc hannel ,paying for content.then some nurk rebroadcasts it WITH THEIR OWN ADS ON THE FRONT I'd be well pissed
  • Stu
    Andy yarm and that's why both you and the tv execs are a touch dim! Catchuptv pay for the costs of rebroadcasting so that the ads on itv and C4 are seen by more people! ITV and C4 already give the signal out unencoded over the airwaves for free! All catchuptv are doing is giving this channels extra viewers! That means the ads by ITV can be sold for more money! They ought to just work WITH catchuptv rather than waste all this money on lawyers.
  • Dick
    It also shows why product placement is likely to come along. You cannot mess with ads when the programmes are the ads.
  • S B.
    Meanwhile at the huge torrent site there is wholesale and industrial copyright theft in that just about every programme broadcast in the UK is recorded, then uploaded for members to access all around the world. The BBC have been informed - yet have done nothing about it. I pay my license fee and strongly object to thousands of free-loaders downloading programmes that I have paid for on p2p torrent networks .

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment