The European Court of Justice has ruled that national exclusivity agreements for sports, film and TV show broadcasts may be in violation EU rules. The decision calls into question the legality of a business model essential to producers and broadcasters where rights are sold on a territory-by-territory basis.
The case involved a UK pub owner who used a decoder box to access Greek broadcasts of Premier League soccer games. The Court held that licensing schemes that prevent competition from other EU states contravene common market principles. In the UK, exclusive rights to the Premier League are held by BSkyB.
The ECJ said that premium paid by TV networks to ensure absolute territorial exclusivity “goes beyond what is necessary to ensure the right holders appropriate remuneration….Such a practice may result in artificial price differences between the partitioned national markets.”
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that hyperlinks are not considered publication for the purposes of defamation. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that hyperlinks alone are not capable of libel. As Justice Rosalie Abella wrote:
Making reference to the existence and/or location of content by hyperlink or otherwise, without more, is not publication of that content. Only when a hyperlinker presents content from the hyperlinked material in a way that actually repeats the defamatory content, should that content be considered to be “published” by the hyperlinker.
The Court reasoned that hyperlinks function like footnotes in that they are content neutral. Further, the author of the hyperlink has no control over the content contained at the end of the link.
The judgment comes out of a case involving a blog post on a B.C. website. The post linked to external articles that allegedly defamed business owner Wayne Crookes. When the website operator, Jon Newton, refused to delete the post, Crookes launched legal action claiming that the hyperlinks to the articles amounted to defamation.
The citation for the case is Crookes v Newton, 2011 SCC 47.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission announced today that over-the-top (OTT) video services such as Netflix will remain exempt from licensing requirements.
The decision comes out of a fact-finding exercise in which several Canadian broadcast entities argued for regulatory intervention. Unlike Netflix, conventional broadcasters such as TV networks are subject to federal regulation that mandates, among other things, the funding and broadcast of Canadian content.
The Commission noted that although OTT is reshaping Canada’s broadcast system, the evidence to date does not prove OTT is harmful to current policy objectives. However, the Commission did not close the door to future regulation. A fact-finding review is scheduled for May 2012.
The Government of Canada is moving forward with new copyright legislation. Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced today the re-introduction of the Copyright Modernization Act. The bill is identical to the version presented to Parliament last spring before the federal election.
“Canadians will soon have modern copyright laws that protect and help create jobs, promote innovation, and attract new investment to Canada. We are confident that this bill will make Canada’s copyright laws forward-looking and responsive in this fast-paced digital world.”
Among other things, the bill expands categories of fair dealing to include education, parody and satire — provided these uses does not circumvene digital locks. The bill’s protection for digital locks has been controversial with critics including University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist.