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23 April, 2009

Copyright does not protect facts or information, IceTV wins

Well, this law case started in late 2006, I briefly mentioned it in SillyDog701 Message Centre back then.

IceTV, a small Australian company providing electronic TV programme guide (EPG) (I have to add, only free-to-air channels). In late 2006, Channel Nine wasn't happy that IceTV published their TV schedule. Channel Nine sued IceTV. In August 2007, the Federal Court found in IceTV's favour. Channel Nine appealed, and in May 2008, Channel Nine won. IceTV then appealed to the High Court and won.

Here's the interesting part:
The court reiterated the concept that "Copyright does not protect facts or information. Copyright protects the particular form of expression of the information, namely the words, figures and symbols in which the pieces of information are expressed, and the selection and arrangement of that information."

Furthermore, "Copyright, being an exception to the law's general abhorrence of monopolies, does not confer a monopoly on facts or information because to do so would impede the reading public's access to and use of facts and information."

More on the IceTV part. I used IceTV's free service and the paid service before. I did not pay for the service, it was provided as a bonus free trial from EyeTV devices.

Back then, using IceTV was pretty much the only way I can have the EPG on my EyeTV. It was required for scheduled recording. After the end of trial period, I did not continue for that. Personally, I found the program synopses inadequate, particularly on the guide of soap shows such as Home and Away and Neighbours. Furthermore, I found it extremely expensive ($3 per week for only free-to-air channels). Not that I have pay TV, but for 5 networks and $3 a week, I'd rather go out and buy a weekend newspaper which comes a weekly TV guide with pay TV listing, for far less than $3 a week. (to Don: Antony is poor, he can't afford the payment.)

I know can justify the paying for .Mac/MobileMe service, but I can't justify the need for EPG guide.

As for now, many TV stations provides TV information through DVB (free). Such information is sufficient for me, and actually provides more and better program synopses than IceTV's. This feed goes to EyeTV directly. Furthermore, if you really want, there are many TV listing websites providing all program listings (free-to-air and pay TV) online for free, such as yourTV (operated by Nine), Yahoo!7's TV Guide (which powers TiVo if my understanding is correct).

Well, I still don't have TiVo. (to Don: Antony is poor.) However, I might consider PlayStation 3's PlayTV once it is available in Australia.

(to Don: High Court is similar to America's Supreme Court. The decision is final. The only way to have the decision reconsidered requires Prime Minister to make a request, according to a High Court staff I spoke to a few years back.)

news source:
IceTV slays Nine in High Court EPG victory: update (iTWire, 22 April 2009)
IceTV's High Court win over Channel Nine a victory for viewers (, 22 April 2009)

Posted by Antony on 23 April 2009 3:37 PM | newstalk
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