Digital video recorders are most effective when they are coupled with guide data that tells you what is on when. IceTV is a provider of such data for many of these recorders and for Media Centre PCs. It gets the data by compiling it from publicly available information.
Now it seems that Channel Nine is not too happy about this and is claiming copyright (click here). Nine gives its data to Foxtel but Channels Ten and Seven don’t. But it is interesting that Nine is running the challenge here.
It will be interesting to see how this plays itself out. If you broadcast your TV schedule and allow others to print it (I am assuming that this is for free or that TV Week doesn’t actually pay Nine for it), then what is the big deal if someone pulls this for another purpose. Then again, copyright gives the right to prevent copying and so strictly speaking this is that.
If Nine wins, then what? Presumably a licensing deal. But Nine could simply cut IceTV off. Would this be an abuse of market power? After all, Nine is the monopoly supplier of such data and if IceTV cannot license it, it cannot compete in the market for the ‘publication’ of that data. Nine may well need to ask the ACCC for authorisation of that conduct. In that case, it will have to argue that being able to choose the form of publication or to indirectly prevent technologies that avoid advertisements would be in the public interest. I wonder if our competition authorities like ads enough.