The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that broadcasters can veto the retransmission of their signals over an internet program service. Essentially, it upheld the right of any “author” of a work to either authorize or prohibit the retransmission of such work to the public. NAB hailed the decision.
The ruling was based on a United Kingdom case in which internet service TVCatchup Ltd. was passing along broadcast programming over the objections of UK broadcasters.
The court found that such retransmission fell within the language of existing statute, and stated, “The Court accordingly finds that, when a given work is put to multiple use, each transmission or retransmission of that work using a specific technical means must, as a rule, be individually authorised by its author.”
Dennis Wharton of NAB commented, “NAB is gratified that Europe’s highest court has found that those retransmitting broadcast signals over the Internet must obtain the consent of the owners of the broadcasts and the materials in those broadcasts. The Court’s ruling noted the ‘high level of protection of authors’ provided under European law ‘allowing them to obtain an appropriate reward for the use of their works.’ Those seeking to retransmit U.S. broadcast signals over the Internet should be required to do no less.”
Wharton continued, “The ‘Directive’ under which the case was decided is designed to harmonize the domestic laws of countries belonging to the European Union. NAB applauds the ongoing efforts at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva to achieve similar harmonization of laws internationally for the protection of broadcast signals transmitted over the Internet.”