ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 argued TVCatchup was in breach of copyright and couldn’t rely on UK legislation that provided for retransmission over cable networks.
The European Court of Justice said it was irrelevant whether the content was initially broadcast on television channels subject to public service obligations. In a ruling published Wednesday, the court said Article 9 of Directive 2001/29, emphasised “the concept of ‘access to cable of broadcasting services’, must be interpreted as not covering, and not permitting, national legislation which provides that copyright is not infringed in the case of the immediate retransmission by cable, including, where relevant, via the internet, in the area of initial broadcast, of works broadcast on television channels subject to public service obligations.”
It said the term ‘access to cable’ was as a concept very different to ‘retransmission by cable’.
In a statement, TVCatchup said the ruling did not come as a surprise. “The Section 73 cable exemption in the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act (“CDPA”) played a major historical role in our long running dispute with ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, and it was a great comfort to us that access to these channels – which have traditionally been the most popular – was ruled fully lawful by the High Court. Sadly ITV have managed to persuade the EU to now rule that the delivery of content via the internet does not equate to a cable service.”
The online relay service said it would be around for many years to come.