Streaming Showdown: Foxtel vs Sharpe

By 8 February, 2017 January 21st, 2019 No Comments

Australian boxing legends Danny Green and Anthony Mundine went head to head last Friday, but the focus has since been on a new fight emerging from the ring…Foxtel vs Darren Sharpe.

Along with a host of other Facebook users, Mr Sharpe live streamed the fight via his Facebook page to more than 150,000 viewers.  Facebook streaming is free of charge, and viewers accessing the match through Mr Sharpe’s Facebook page were able to watch the match live without paying Foxtel’s subscription fees of $59.95 per household, according to the ABC.

Foxtel paid for the exclusive rights to broadcast the match, and has promised to take legal action against those who live streamed the fight without Foxtel’s approval or authorisation.

Mr Sharpe has since set up a Go Fund Me crowdfunding page, appealing to the public to “Please donate in case I end up getting sued”.

What will Foxtel’s case centre upon?

Foxtel will likely bring a claim for copyright infringement against the live streamers.  Under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), persons can be found liable for infringement of dramatic works (including television broadcasts) for reproducing or communicating the work to the public without the authority of the copyright owner.  A work will be deemed to have been reproduced “if it is converted into or from a digital or other electronic machine-readable form”.  These are the criteria Foxtel needs to establish.  If it succeeds, it could be entitled to an award of damages from the live streamers.

In an age where consumers insist on instant access to music and television, and technology and industry continue to provide ever-improving means to that end, copyright owners are facing hard times.  Paid streaming has become increasingly common with services like Netflix and Stan, with those service providers paying for the rights to host popular television shows and films.  They compete with illegal streaming services, with the Australian population being one of the worst worldwide offenders for piracy and illegal downloads.

A decision of this kind could set a precedent for live streaming and its interaction with copyright law, and potentially for copyright holders in the digital age.

Click here to listen to the audio of the phone call between Foxtel and Darren Sharpe.

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