29 August 2012

Sport and copyright

The cogent 'This Sporting Life: Copyright Law and Consumer Rights' by Matthew Rimmer comments that
Sport occupies an anomalous position under Australian copyright law. A footballer like Gary Ablett Junior is not an author under copyright law. A sporting spectacle like the AFL Grand Final or the State of Origin is not a dramatic work. Sporting events are protected somewhat peripherally as television broadcasts under Australian copyright law. Nonetheless, sports organizations have engaged in special pleading in respect of intellectual property law. This has been particularly evident in the litigation between Optus, the National Rugby League, and the Australian Football League.
He notes that -
It would appear that, in the case of sporting television broadcasts, the Gillard Government is willing to wind back such copyright exceptions. Such a decision reflects the close relationship that exists between the Gillard Government and the elite sporting codes. Sadly, the over-protection of sporting organisations under Australian copyright law may well have inadvertent impacts upon consumers, cloud computing, and technology developers. Unfortunately, the interests of consumers have been forgotten in this corporatist clash over copyright law. 
It is striking Australian consumers do not enjoy the same freedoms and liberties as their counterparts in the United States and Singapore. A number of cloud computing companies – including Beem and MyTVR - have closed down their operations because of concerns about the precedent of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia.  Technology developers – with products and services related to time-shifting, space-shifting, and place- shifting – will be anxious about liability for authorizing copyright infringement in Australia.