Cloud-Based TV Service Needs Consent to Record, EU Court Says

(CN) – An internet service can’t record TV broadcasts and store them on its cloud for subscribers to view without the permission of all who have an interest in the rights to the programs, the European Court of Justice ruled Wednesday.

Britain-based VCAST allows its subscribers to select television programs they’d like recorded, and the company uses its antennas to pick up the broadcasts and stores them on its cloud for users to view at their leisure.

VCAST filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against Italian broadcaster RTI, seeking a declaration from a Turin court that its business model is legal. The company based its argument on the private copying exception in EU copyright law, which allows copies to be made by “a natural person for private use” that is not directly or indirectly commercial.

But the Turin court temporarily blocked VCAST from recording RTI’s broadcasts, and asked the European Court of Justice whether VCAST’s business practices – recording and making TV shows available to its subscribers without the permission of the shows’ copyright holders – ran afoul of EU copyright law.

In a preliminary ruling issued Wednesday, the Luxembourg-based high court noted VCAST has two purposes: reproducing TV programs, and making them available to its subscribers. The latter constitutes a communication to the public and requires consent of the rights holders under EU law, the court found.

Furthermore, VCAST’s making RTI programs available to its subscribers amounts to a retransmission and also requires the permission of all rights holders, the EU court said, and VCAST cannot rely on the private copying exception as a result.

It’s up to the Turin court to decide the case, using the EU high court’s preliminary ruling as its basis.

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