EC court rules against TVCatchup

TVCatchupBBC, ITV and Channel 4 won a victory against the streaming mobile and online service TVCatchup at the European Court.

The service lets people watch more than 50 UK Freeview TV channels, including those from BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Now the European Court of Justice has ruled that broadcasters have the right to prohibit any such redistribution, saying that under a 2001 EU law, original broadcasters are held to be “authors” who have an exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication of their work to the public.

“Television broadcasters may prohibit the retransmission of their programmes by another company via the internet,” according to the ruling.

“That retransmission constitutes, under certain conditions, a ‘communication to the public’ of works which must be authorised by their authors.”

When launching the service, TVCatchup said it was allowed to rebroadcast the channel based on section 73 of the UK Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988.

The channels are accessible only to viewers who have a valid British TV licence and are located in the UK.

When the service was launched, the three broadcasters started legal proceedings against it. After hearings held in June 2011, Justice Floyd in the High Court referred to the EC for guidance on certain aspects of the case.

following the ruling by the European Court, the case will now be back with the High Court.

In a statement ITV said it was now free to pursue legal action against unauthorised sites that sought to broadcast its content.

TVCatchup is still hopeful it can win on a number of points.

The English version of the full ruling by the ECJ can be found at the Info Curia website of the Court.