Experts about IPTV & Copyright – To Regulate or Not to Regulate?

On Thursday, 18 May 2017, the Czech Telecommunication Office and the Czech Association of Electronic Communications hosted the Next Generation Infrastructure and Distribution of Protected Content conference with the participation of the representatives of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Culture and a number of experts including Tomáš Nielsen of NIELSEN MEINL. Discussing the development and use of infrastructure, the conference also tackled the IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) issues including copyright and related collective management and regulation.

 

As pointed out by T. Nielsen in the subsequent discussion: “With IPTV, the laws of physics have been challenged and broken to some extent. Unlike the terrestrial TV signal, the IPTV signal is transmitted border-free; what has been regulated naturally might now probably need to be regulated by law. In terms of copyright, however, the issue lies somewhere else – in the enforceability of law and excessive use of copyright protection tools. Rather than taking a formalistic stance, the courts should investigate whether the copyright has indeed been infringed or whether the behaviour in question can rather be qualified as unfair competition.” As further remarked by T. Nielsen, the issue of unjust enrichment is uniquely regulated under the Czech Copyright Act – unlike in all other circumstances generally regulated by law, the Czech Copyright Act directly grants a double licence fee to the party whose copyright has been infringed; in other words, it gives the injured party a right to claim double damages in compensation for unjust enrichment: “No wonder that companies not materially directly related to the copyright or copyrighted work will claim copyright protection rather than more logically challenge unfair competition as long as this unique regulation remains in force. The courts are to remedy this situation and consider individual cases correctly.

 

The conference discussion also evolved around TV and broadcasting regulation in Europe and further development of relationships between copyright owners and collective managers; with the collective management of copyright being viewed unanimously by the conference participants as having its place, however, only if entailing a true and transparent protection of authors and their rights and interests.