Optus case prompts Australian government review of copyright law

The Australian government has bowed to pressure from domestic sports leagues by saying it will review parts of the country’s copyright law that permit events to be re-broadcast on mobile devices.

Attorney General Nicola Roxon said the government review would cover a “broad range of exceptions” in the Copyright Act, including permissions for an individual to record an event to watch later. She added that the review would ensure Australia’s copyright laws are “keeping pace with change and able to respond to future challenges.”

The announcement was made as the Australian Football League, the country’s top Australian rules league, and the National Rugby League, the domestic rugby league competition, continue their attempts to overturn a Federal Court ruling in favour of telecommunications service Optus.

The court ruled last month that Optus did not breach copyright laws by allowing subscribers to its TV Now service to watch sport broadcast on free-to-air television channels on their mobile phones with a short time delay. The AFL, NRL and telecommunications company Telstra are appealing the ruling as Optus does not have rights deals with the leagues. In May 2011, Telstra, a rival of Optus, acquired rights for live mobile coverage of the AFL in a five-year deal, from 2012 to 2016.