AFL vows to fight Optus judgment

Andrew Demetriou, chief executive of the Australian Football League, the country’s top Australian rules league, vowed to fight a Federal Court judgment that telco Optus did not breach copyright laws by allowing subscribers to its TV Now service to watch league matches broadcast on free-to-air television channels on their mobile phones with a short time delay.

The AFL fought the case in an effort to protect a deal with telco Telstra, which covers live mobile rights for league matches.

“We will have our day yet again. We will go through the proper legal processes and exploit all of our avenues through appeal,” Demetriou told the AAP news agency. “They can crow all that they like today, but this has a long way to play out.”

In judging the case, Justice Steven Rares said Optus’s time-delayed mobile television service was legal under provisions in the Australia’s Copyright Act which allow people to record programmes and watch them later.

Copyright lawyer David Brennan warned Optus against relying on the judgment, ahead of an appeal. “Until there’s an appeal, I don’t think anyone can be really confident as to what the law of the land is,” Brennan said. “If I was Optus I wouldn’t be building my house entirely on the strength of this judgment. Everyone involved would be prudent to wait until that is settled.”

Brennan said any change to the Copyright Act could take up to two years to introduce.

The AFL, NRL and Telstra were ordered to pay Optus’s court costs following the judgment on Wednesday.

Any appeal is unlikely to be submitted to the Federal Court until next month.