Oct 112013

ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have won a high court ruling forcing controversial London-based website TVCatchUp to stop streaming more than 20 of their services.

Under the ruling TVCatchUp has been told it cannot stream certain ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 channel, including ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, E4, Film4 and More4, on its web-based online service.

ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5’s flagship channels will remain on the website due to section 73 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, which allows certain qualifying services to be retransmitted – although the three channels are not allowed to be streamed on mobile devices. The ruling means the disappearance of popular digital channels including ITV2, E4 and 5*, as well as any +1 timeshift streams.

TVCatchup is continuing to display the channels, but each icon merely redirects to the broadcasters’ own live streams hosted on their individual websites.

TVCatchUp, which earlier this month added catchup TV to its offering of live streaming services, posted a statement on its website acknowledging the changes to its operation following the ruling.

“ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 welcome this decision,” said the broadcasters in a joint statement. “It is a significant vindication for this action that the judge has ruled 21 of our channels are to be removed from the TVC website. This result will help protect the substantial investment broadcasters make in content and is a clear message to those who seek to infringe our copyright or use our content in an illegal capacity.”

TVCatchUp has the right to appeal against the verdict. But lawyers consider the decision to be a major victory for UK broadcasters, which have been concerned about TVCatchUp’s copyright infringement since as far back as 2007.

“The high court has finally confirmed that TVCatchUp must cease streaming all of the claimant broadcasters’ channels on its service on mobile networks and all of the non public service channels, such as ITV2 and E4, on the internet,” said Nick Swimer, partner at Reed Smith. “Whilst TVCatchUp may continue to stream the main public service channels on the internet, the high court indicated that the legal loophole which allows TVCatchUp to do this should be closed by the UK government, as it is not compatible with European law.”

In March, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5’s case against TVCatchup was ruled upon by Europe’s highest court.

The European court of justice ruled that websites that retransmit live TV over the internet without permission from broadcasters are in breach of copyright.