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Summary:

Twelve months after British web-based TV PVR TVCatchup shut down under legal pressure, a Scandinavian counterpart is also reportedly riling…

Twelve months after British web-based TV PVR TVCatchup shut down under legal pressure, a Scandinavian counterpart is also reportedly riling regulators in Finland.

TV-Kaista stores programmes from Finland’s free-to-air channels on its web server, and offers them as VOD to users for a monthly subscription. But the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE says users need a TV license to use the service, and Finland’s copyright society Kopiosto says TV-Kaisa is flat-out infringing IP. ArcticStartup reports: “The parties in dispute are gearing up for a major battle by recruiting Finnish law firms.”

Registered in Mauritius, TVCatchUp, too, had let users schedule their own online programme recordings and even

  1. What a crass article. A comercial subscription based "replay" pirate website has no correlation with networked PVRs, which are not unlawful.

    As a user of TVCatchup, their service is both lawful and has been up and running in its present form for 6 months, and for two years in its previous incarnation. It is not an aggregator, it does not link to other people's content, and it does what kangaroo was set up to do – provide a uniform lawful platform for every broadcaster.

    Zattoo isn't covered by UK exemptions, it isn't even based in Europe and it forces each user to redistribute unlawfully using P2P filesharing technology.

    Bad

  2. Rob, it's true that the online video market in the UK is advanced compared with the rest of Europe. The vast amounts of money that the BBC has spent in developing – and marketing – its proposition (essentially but not only the iPlayer) has had a profound effect on the industry, both expanding it and, to some extent it seems, foreclosing it.

    Beyond the iPlayer, however, the offerings from the other public service broadcasters must be leaving their audiences wanting. Where are the live streams from Channel 4 and Five? Why are ITV's online channels of such poor quality?

    It's also curious that the BBC has only now announced that it will in the near future meet the same streaming standards as Zattoo's 'HiQ' channels, which have been live in the UK since December last year.

    Aggregators, such as Zattoo – and any other service that brings content together from more than one owner – provide a service that is very much part of British society. We are able to simulate quite closely the television experience, with seamless zapping from channel to channel, irrespective of the broadcaster.

    There are some comments made in the previous response that are erroneous. For example, contrary to what is stated, Kangaroo was, of course, designed as a closed platform for only three broadcasters, for video on demand, not live TV.

    With regards to Zattoo's operations, the fact that we're not based in the EU has no bearing on our adherence to the law. Indeed TVC is based a long way from Europe, in Mauritius, an island nation off the South East coast of Africa.

    The law that enables Zattoo to retransmit the public service channels is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) 1988. The requirements of the CDPA 1988 are to retransmit "qualifying services" within the intended geographical area, along a continuous chain of communication from the initial broadcast. Our technology allows us to deliver a direct transmission to any end user, while we limit the availability of the signal to the UK through IP-mapping.

    The CDPA has been much amended and in its current form (http://tiny.cc/s73CDPA) specifies exactly which channels can be retransmitted. These are, in their entirety:

    (a) a regional or national Channel 3 service, [this means ITV1 etc but not ITV2, 3 and 4]
    (b) Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C, [E4, More4 and Film4 as well as Five US etc are not included]
    (c) the public teletext service,
    (d) S4C Digital, and
    (e) the television broadcasting services and teletext service of the British Broadcasting Corporation;

    For non-qualifying services, Zattoo has contractual relationships with the broadcasters. Hence, we follow the law to the letter.

    Meanwhile, the recording of broadcast video in the UK is also governed by the CDPA. It states very precisely that such recording must be done on domestic premises on a personal device for viewing in the home. There is no allowance for networks of PVRs in a server farm.

    Alex Guest
    General Manager UK, Zattoo

  3. *quote*
    "It’s also curious that the BBC has only now announced that it will in the near future meet the same streaming standards as Zattoo’s ‘HiQ’ channels, which have been live in the UK since December last year."
    I find this statement incredible as even the BBC beats you hands down when you talk about quality, if that's the benchmark you sett yourselves against no wonder your service is terrible.
    'Zattoo’s ‘HiQ’ channels' when they work are no match for TVCatchup, the whole site is a mess with pixel mashed pictures that are unwatchable and the whole site is a waste of time.

  4. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. I wonder why Mr Guest feels theneed to justify himself and only selectively addresses the criticism of a service that frankly sucks

    "

  5. It is most telling that Mr Guest admits that his organisation are not based in the EU yet relies upon a UK specific legal provision to justify his company's position. Or that he is so critical of another service based on the supposed location of their head office whereas his own head office is in Michigan USA, a country in which their operations are actually illegal.

    Whilst I agree that their service is appalling, the simple fact remains that Zattoo is illegal in the EU by virtue of their reliance on a filesharing protocol that is carried within their viewing application, which commits the act of secondary copyright infringment.

  6. With regards to Zattoo’s operations, the fact that we’re not based in the EU has no bearing on our adherence to the law. Indeed TVC is based a long way from Europe, in Mauritius, an island nation off the South East coast of Africa.

    What a pathetic response, Jesus…. Many British companies are registered abroad what does that prove and is only a desperate attempt by you to justify your pathetic service. Why does Zattoo steal the signal from a satellite over Europe and rebroadcast it back to the UK, as your illegal actions will never be taken seriously in mainstream TV.
    If you had a service worth fighting for I would champion your corner, but I sorry, as other posters report your service just sucks and your days are numbered.
    To be honest I am not interested in internet TV as I have all the media I need at home and I was put off the concept by your inferior service; however, I did try TVCatchup, and I must say I was mightily impressed with the service with an amazing picture quality.
    If I was to choose one of the two then without a doubt it would be TVCatchup rather than a shady illegal Zattoo operation.

  7. Robert Andrews Friday, March 6, 2009

    All (and especially Steve) – would you please refrain from flinging accusations that such-and-such service is "illegal". That kind of talk can lead one to difficulty. Everyone's legal unless shown otherwise.

    Happy to host the discussion here – but please keep it civil.

  8. In response to Robert, if you didn't make such a stupid analogy in the first place then you wouldn't receive such responses would you. Looking through your past articles you yourself have described such services as "dodgy", which in itself is the preparation of an idea of illegalness, such what are we to assume now? That everything is legal unless you say not or maybe yes….."confused"

  9. Err, Robert, it was you who first started casting aspersions about the legality of various internet operations in your article, nobody else

    You said: "Twelve months after British web-based TV PVR TVCatchup shut down under legal pressure" and link to another of your articles: "TVCatchup Shuts Down Under Broadcaster Pressure" in which you went on to state: "We told you it was a lawsuit waiting to happen".

    What legal pressure? What lawsuit? Have you ever seen any evidence of any lawsuit naming TVCatchup with your own eyes? Have you even bothered to try to contact the owners of TVCatchup who, incidentally, have been based in the UK for over a year?

    You are of course (now) correct in stating that "Everyone’s legal unless shown otherwise". It is a great shame that you don't reflect that in your reporting and instead try to fabricate tenuous connections between unrelated issues to senationalise what passes for journalism.

  10. Robert Andrews Friday, March 6, 2009

    @ Simon:

    ** "You said: “Twelve months after British web-based TV PVR TVCatchup shut down under legal pressure” and link to another of your articles: “TVCatchup Shuts Down Under Broadcaster Pressure” in which you went on to state: “We told you it was a lawsuit waiting to happen”."**

    — None of that is inaccurate as I never reported a lawsuit was filed. Neither did I report it was illegal, either before it relaunched or after.

    Let me refer you to TVCatchup's own statement at the time it shut down: “In recent days, TVCatchup has become aware of the Broadcaster’s (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five) increasing concerns over the free personal recording functionality that this website offers. On 15th February, our hosting was terminated without warning and we presume this was at the request of such Broadcasters. Given that this will no doubt happen again, TVCatchup has therefore voluntarily suspended its services whilst the concerns of the Broadcasters are addressed.”

    Now it's relaunched offering free-to-air channels via the copyright provisions. Brilliant. I'm happy for everyone concerned. But there's obviously a parallel between the TVCatchup PVR feature that was forced to close and the Finnish PVR.

    I'm not sure who some of the people in this thread really are, but it looks like a case of rival services arguing amongst themselves. All's fair in love and business, I suppose.

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