Friday, July 3, 2009

David sues Goliath

Singapore's national broadcaster MediaCorp has been taken to court by an Internet start-up company RecordTV, for issuing groundless threats of legal action. In its defence, MediaCorp has filed a counterclaim for copyright infringement. Groundless threats are actionable under the Copyright Act, Trade Marks Act, Patents Act and Registered Designs Act.

As its name suggests, RecordTV's 2007-launched website allowed registered users to request recording of MediaCorp's free-to-air television programmes. In its opening statement in court, RecordTV said its service was merely an alternative to more traditional permitted means of recording television programmes at home, such as using a video cassette recorder or digital video recorder. The only difference was that RecordTV recordings were stored outside the user's premises. RecordTV has also contended that the recordings were made by its users, and not itself.

In reply, MediaCorp pointed to evidence gathered by its private investigators, which showed that unlike users of video cassette recorders, users of RecordTV's services had no control over functions such as recording and playback. Further, one of the private investigators had requested a 5-minute recording but received a 26-minute recording instead - this, MediaCorp suggested, was indicative that it was RecordTV and not the user that made the recordings.

Presided over by the Honourable Justice Andrew Ang, the 4-day hearing is slated to end today.

Interestingly, RecordTV stated that it bought the software from RecordTV USA. If this is the same RecordTV USA that the Los Angeles Federal court ruled against in 2001, then things do not look too optimistic for the start-up.

No comments: