HomeNewsOlympic GamesNew Zealand

Sky New Zealand loses out in Olympic rights case

Media company Fairfax Media has claimed a victory for press freedom after a judge today (Friday) decided to dismiss pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand’s application for an injunction on its online video coverage of the 2016 summer Olympic Games.

After a two-day hearing, Justice John Fogarty issued his verdict in an Auckland courtroom. Sky, which holds sole rights to Olympic video coverage in New Zealand, had been seeking an injunction requiring Fairfax to stick to the limits specified in news access rules imposed by the International Olympic Committee.

Sky had protested over Fairfax’s use of Rio 2016 video content through its Stuff.co.nz website. The New Zealand Herald newspaper said Sky had argued that Fairfax’s use of Olympic footage directly competed with its own broadcasts and that it required an injunction to ensure its copyright “was not eaten away and undermined”.

Fairfax claimed its use of Sky’s broadcast material was within the fair dealing rules of New Zealand copyright law. The regulations allow media to use copyrighted works for the reporting of current events.

One of the main arguments in Sky’s case was the use of rolling video clips on Stuff.co.nz, arguing that this constituted a “mounting montage of highlights”. Justice Fogarty agreed that the auto-playing of clips went beyond any sensible interpretation of fair dealing, but noted that Fairfax has since disabled this function.

Commenting on today’s ruling, Sinead Boucher, group executive editor of Fairfax Media, said in a statement: “We strongly believe we are covering the Olympics in Rio fairly and with integrity and we have been able to defend that position in the High Court over the last three days.

“It was a very aggressive approach by Sky to try and injunct us at short notice with the intent of restricting our news coverage. It was also significant we had strong support in court from TVNZ and NZME who shared our concerns about the right for media to cover events of national significance.

“We were unable to agree to the terms Sky was imposing because it would have significantly limited our ability to deliver the Olympic news. That decision has been vindicated.”