back to article Euro beaks to rule if is legal

The UK High Court is to ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if streaming live TV programmes over the internet is an act subject to copyright laws after provisionally ruling that it is. Mr Justice Floyd said that TVCatchup did communicate to the public when it streamed programmes broadcast by ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Shooting themselves in the foot

    I don't see what all the fuss is over, I pay my TV license even though there's no aerial connected to my television, I only watch TV online because it's _more practical_ to do so (granted it's usually via iPlayer or the like).

    I use TVCatchup rarely but I do need it, I'm a network administrator responsible for a series of web-servers for a few prime-time TV shows, when I'm in the datacenter monitoring servers late at night, there's no television in there to see whats going on, I'm wholly reliant on online services and this is where TVCatchup comes into its own.

    The legal eagles are squabbling about whether TVCatchup is legal, it's only offering what is already made freely available (providing you have a TV license) to the public via an alternative medium. TV networks have to realise that people watching TV via an aerial is a 20th century concept and we're now in a digital age where broadband Internet is available practically anywhere, they need to adapt and serve this new age.

    TVCatchup is helping them reach further audiences without it costing them a penny, they really shouldn't shoot themselves in the foot by trying to do away with it.

  2. Devon_Custard

    Good Service, cant see the problem

    I use TVCatchup everyday on my laptop or HTC when in bed. I am quite happy to watch Jean Claud over and over again when swapping channels as a means of paying for the service. Whats more, the fact that the original advertisments in the channel are not removed plus the fact that I already pay a license for Beeb channels leads me to think there isnt really a problem here.

    I cant see how the original broadcasters are being diddled out of money when I could just walk downstairs and watch the same on my tv.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You guys forget

    That this stuff is being shown around the world.

    And it takes people away from those channels own sites and reduces the value of its ad space.

    Of course if these channels offered decent sites this one would now be dead.

    1. Gavin McMenemy

      Are you- sure?

      Is it not geographically restricted? I am pretty sure it is.

      And if not, the simple solution would be to make it so.

    2. jm83


      if the TV channels decide to show crap or go out of business then TVCatchup will find itself in trouble.

      TVCatchup is parasitic, but it is (as you say) only offering a service that the Channels should be offering.

      Given we (the licence paying public) own at least some of those channels, I think it should be ruled illegal.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        The Solution

        talking nonsense.

    3. yeahyeahno
      Thumb Down

      re: You guys forget

      No it isn't TVCatchup go to quite some effort to stop their service from being used outside the UK including the blocking of proxys.

      Much easier to watch Sky in Spain.

    4. Alien8n

      Own sites?

      I use TVCatchup on my iPhone, it's the ONLY way to watch TV on the iPhone as no other service is available apart from Sky Sports. Considering how long the iPhone (and other mobiles for that matter) have been around it's about time that the broadcaster's got their acts together and sorted out their streaming services. There's services for the Wii and the PS3, which let's face it are actually no better than watching it on your laptop or PC.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      Sorry but..

      1. TVCatchup blocks everyone unless they are in the uk.

      2. TvCatchup does not block or remove a networks adverts - and gives them more visitors of what they would not have ordinearly. Increasing value of ad space

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again...

    Another website that does something useful so it needs to be closed down..

    The TV companies have killed themselves to get online, bringing 4OD and ITV to the PS3, Wii and whatever else they can think of, but as soon as someone else gets involved in relaying content I am legally entitled to watch on my TV via a different bit of wire, lawyer time!

  5. itzman

    interesting implications?

    since any booster or relay or router could ultimately be considered in the same light..

    'ISPS sued over transmission of copyright material'

    'Home owner who installed TV distribution amplifier sued over transmission of copyright material'

    'Crown estate demands wayleave for transmission of material through Royal Aether'

    There's an interesting legal argument that once material is broadcast, it's in the public domain..

    And only when its reproduced and sold for gain is an offence committed

  6. yeahyeahno

    TVCatchup beg to disagree

    From TVCatchup: "TVC wins ground-breaking case against broadcasters" and "

    litigation brought against them by ITV and others has failed" and "The groundbreaking decision stems from the fact that the judge ruled that s73 (Copyright, Designs & Patents Act) provides TVCatchup with a complete defence to both communication to the public and copying for the channels listed within s73, which include ALL BBC services, ITV1, Channel 4 & Channel 5"

    Full announcement from TVCatchup here

  7. Monkey Bob

    Have been waiting for someone to object to this...

    ...but somehow thought it'd be the BBC objecting to them displaying adverts before showing you any BBC feeds.

  8. Dazed and Confused

    20th century tech

    The idea of broadcasting the signal out once so that millions of people can all watch it a very efficient usage of bandwidth. The thought of 10 million people in the UK all hitting the same streaming service at the same time to watching something is just plain scary unless someone comes up with a damn efficient multicastting system. As a web administrator how much bandwidth do you have? If a teli program needs about 2.5Mb and there are 10 million UK views do you have 25Tb of available bandwidth?

    Perhaps the idea that 10M people want to watch the same thing at the same time is a bit 20th century, but how would you suggest dealing with live events?

    1. John G Imrie

      How to transmit to 10M ppl at once over the net.

      Perhaps the idea that 10M people want to watch the same thing at the same time is a bit 20th century, but how would you suggest dealing with live events?

      Set up a pyramid net work.

      This is where say the first 10 clients to connect get the stream direct. The rest of the clients are redirected to any of the first 10. When they get full they start redirecting new clients to their connections.

      If someone stops forwarding the stream then that machines clients go back to the source and ask for a new connection.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      The Future

      Its the future, think Netflix, Love Film ,Amazon Plus, iPlayer and TVCatchup.

      Networks need to give themselves a kick and finally make Satalight and Arials obsolite.

  9. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    Isn't the issue here that TVCatchup is slotting its own adverts in, instead of those previously paying for the programmes? I read the article that way, but I am still half asleep.

    But the broadcast rights issue is a nightmare - it does not always belong to the broadcaster, who may have rights only to transmit something live, or within a specified geographical location. The databases behind the BBC iplayer have many flags as to what may be rebroadcast and when it may, and who has to authorise it, and whether it needs editing first, and... it's not as simple as it looks.

    1. yeahyeahno

      re: Advertising

      Since TVC is not "slotting its own adverts in" no, that is not the issue.

      TVC show you one advert BEFORE the stream starts, that is it, no more no less.

      Want to watch two three hours films back to back on Film Four? No problem, all TVC did was show you one advert BEFORE the streaming started.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Ok thanks, I didn't know that...

        The broadcasters are going to be taking issue with the rights, then.

        I have to admit to not having seen it, being the boring sort that thinks sticking broadcast material on networks is generally a waste of bandwidth.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      No Slotting

      They dont "slot" them in, just a pre-roll. You can watch one advert but stream a channel for hours and hours and hours.

  10. Velv

    Sensible option?

    The sensible option would be for the BBC, ITV, C4, 5, Sky, etc to buy out TVCatchup and then run the service. It is geographically restricted already, so their current rights shouldn't be infringed.

    Yes, they all have their own players, but that is the trouble - you need to install different players.

    And they don't broadcast much in near live, where TVCatchup is at it's best.

    Come on the British - do something sensible for a change

    1. Viper

      It wont work

      It sounds like a sensible option, but it wont work, the reason the broadcasters do not show all broadcasts live via the websites is because

      1. They didn't pay the extra for the rights to broadcast it on the internet

      2. Have old contracts that were agreed before the internet streaming option was available

      or 3. The rights holder is stuck in the dark ages and do not offer the rights for internet broadcast.

      So if they got together and bought TVCatchup then it would become just as useless as the current individual sites.

      Also TVCatchup offers an alternative when the original channels website is down or otherwise not working due to high demand or incompetence.

  11. Purlieu


    Again we have each broadcaster with their own Player.

    Guys that's not very C21.

    It's like having to own a different TV for each broadcaster.

    Thought not.

    Get together and decide on a common Player for all channels.

    Newcomers can then link in to that standard.

    And don't spend 88 zillion quid on consultants chhosing it please.

    1. yeahyeahno
      Thumb Down

      Cough OFCOM

      The regulators have stopped the BBC and interested parties from producing such a platform more than once.

  12. jubtastic1

    Awesome service

    Net result of this being taken offline will be a reduction in the amount of TV watched in our house.

    Message to the TV companies:

    1) This service increases the exposure of shows, many of which have been added to normal TV viewing as a result of having been seen first on TV Catchup.

    2) Negotiate with the service admins for viewing statistics, in show advertising is hitting extra eyeballs as a result of this and similar services, we have way more PC monitors than TV's in our house, dont focus on turning the Monitors off, make them count instead, more viewers means higher advertising rates.

    3) Dumb TV's are on the way out, viewers want TV online, and they want it to be as easy as a TV, no one wants to have to load up a dozen websites to see what's playing on different channels.

    4) You might wonder how a tiny outfit like this manages to stream at higher quality and greater reliability than your own in house efforts which have sucked up millions of pounds, maybe you could learn something from these guys.

    1. yeahyeahno

      TVCatchup not going offline

      Indeed if you read their release on this verdict you will see that they are green lighting whole new and expanded services.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is no different...

    ... to a guy recording whats on telly, burning it to DVD, then selling it down the market. It's irrelevant that he charges a fixed fee regardless of how many DVDs you walk away with, or that you can walk away with them free if you watch an advert he's burned to the start of every disk.

    Everyone saying this is a perfectly acceptible service, try burning some fims recorded off telly to DVD, then go down the local market and set up a stall giving them away. Trading Standards will be down on you in a heartbeat.

    1. Viper

      you what????

      This is completely different to burning it to DVD in that you can only watch it while its being broadcast.

      The name of the site is misleading as you can no longer catchup with TV only watch it live.

      1. yeahyeahno
        Thumb Up


        As TVCatchup see this verdict in a very different light to the articles authors, they are now pressing ahead with their catch up service.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle


      You dont understand what TVCatchup are doing.

      Its an ALTERNATE to using AirWaves, its new technology the future. Its just the networks are to slow and bone-idle to come up with a good solution. So it takes a good company to come along and do it for them !

      They missed their opportunity.

      P.S. If Movie Studios did not sell DVD's I would find it "morally acceptable" that people burned them and sold them. But they do, so It is wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I fully understand...

        ... My burning episodes and fims to Flexyplay DVDs ( ) then giving them away down the market is simply an alternate to using airwaves. But the studios and the authorities will sucessfully prosecute otherwise.

        Free to air != free for the watcher to redistribute.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    tvcatchup is a fantastic site and the only way I can get any live TV without going the satellite route since I live in the wrong part of a hill causing Elmley Moor transmitter to not reach us.

    My consumption of TV is already limited to a few items from the channel sites and the occasional "lets put tvcatchup on in the background while we do something else" or "I'm too tired to bother picking content out" scenarios.

  15. Bassey


    There is no TV signal where I live.

    In the past I had no TV but the TV licensing authority still treated me like a criminal. I sent them a cease and decist order but was basically told "Fuck off. Those laws don't apply to us. We'll harass you as musch as you wish".

    So, I eventually bought a TV and DVD player and got myself a TV license. But I could only watch DVDs.

    Then TVCatchup started and I was finally able to get the service I am forced to pay for - though there is really nothing on worth watching. I probably watch less than an hour a week but I HAVE to watch it through catchup because the BBC refuse to provide the service they insist I have to pay for.

    Now they are prosecuting a company who, in return for watching a 15s advert once in a while, provide a service FOR FREE that the BBC refuse POINT BLANK to provide but still take £145 a year for. I am utterly, utterly speechless. They are utter cunts.

    1. James Goodwin

      Corrections time...

      1) If you only watch DVDs on your TV, you don't need a TV Licence. Cancel it and claim your refund, then divert any mail from TVL to your bin. If they come knocking, demonstrate that your TV doesn't receive broadcast signals, as it's impossible.

      2) The BBC have streamed all of their channels online, live, for several years now, so they're not exactly refusing "POINT BLANK" to provide the service.

      1. SJB

        I (almost) fully concur

        Apart from the fact that if they do come knocking what you should actually do is refuse to let them in given they have no right to enter your home. If they want to try and get a judge to issue the police with a warrant to search your house (on the grounds that you live in a house therefore you must watch TV...) let them try.

  16. yeahyeahno

    Facts not hyperbole

    1) TVCatcup were sued ITV and other commercial broadcaster for in a civil court, snot prosecuted in a criminal court.

    2) TVCatchup is continuing, no service has been withdrawn.

    3) TVCatchup have said the ruling proves their service is legal.

    4) TVCatchup now intend to release new services living up to their name, allowing you to catchup with previously broadcast content, in much the way a VCR or PVR does.

    5) The BBC played no part in the court case.

  17. Tony Paulazzo

    License fee

    I wrote to the license fee people as where I live we get no freeview until 2012/13, and we can't even get ch5 OTA and 4 is badly snowy.

    I basically said if they didn't stop sending demands for money in such a threatening letter I'd take them to small claims court for attempting to make money thru threats, I said I'd thrown the aerial away and they were welcome to come and check at a mutually convenient time. They wrote back apologising and stopped sending the letters.

    As for TVCatchup, it was crap on my iPad so I deleted it's ass. I'm quite happy to watch tv shows in 'catch up mode'.

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