The Australian Federal Court has dismissed Channel 9's case against IceTV, ruling on Thursday that the company does not infringe copyright against the broadcaster.
IceTV supplies electronic programming to subscribers for time-shifting and electronic recording on a capable PVR device. Channel 9, a TV broadcaster, claimed that it infringed on the copyright for its programming guide and took IceTV to court in 2006.
However, IceTV has argued that all information is independently compiled using IceTV's own software and methodology, and none is taken from the commercial network's own digital programme guides.
It follows that ICE has not infringed Nine's copyright in the course of making and updating the IceGuide. Nine accepts that, in these circumstances, the other infringement allegations must also fail," ruled Justice Annabelle Bennett
IceTV general manager Matt Kossatz was pleased after the result, particularly because it defeated a giant. "They did not expect such a small company to fight. We make it clear that we use our own proprietary technology and did not breach any copyright".
Kossatz continued to say that Channel 9 observed IceTV chasing capital last year in the form of IPO and saw this "as an opportunity to get rid of [us]".
Amid earlier allegations of copyright infringement made in May 2006, IceTV had offered for the commercial networks to come in and observe the compilation of the programme guide. "Channel 9 was the only network to refuse" Kossatz said. "They then took us to court soon after".
"Last year 20% was our average monthly growth rate for IceTV subscribers. This year it has averaged around 6%, significantly lower. We don't believe this is in direct regard to the court case with Channel 9. Rather, we have put less money into marketing and have seen this drop as a result," Kossatz said.
The PVR market is heating up as TiVo, a PVR from the US and backed by Channel 7 and broadband provider Engin, is coming to Australian shores — most likely next year. It has functions that not only allow for the ability to record shows for a later time, but also the ability to search a database for a specific actor or genre. IceTV hopes to include similar functions into future offers to consumers in the form of I Watch This.
Kossatz believes there is a big enough market for TiVo, IceTV and Foxtel's established IQ Recorder. "The good news for Ice is that [the introduction of TiVo] will increase awareness and revenue for us. Time shift viewing in Australia is increasing and we are definitely seeing a revolution happening. Consumers are getting savvier, and they won't go back [once they use time shifting]".