ASSOCIATION OF COMMERCIAL TELEVISION HAS ACHIEVED SIGNIFICANT SUCCESS IN THE ANTI-PIRACY FIGHT


1. 12. 2023
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The High Court in Olomouc has upheld the preliminary ruling issued by the Regional Court in Brno on a petition by the Association of Commercial Television (AKTV), requiring the operators of the eDisk.cz and Sledujteto.cz repositories not to allow the uploading and downloading of copyright-protected works of Nova and Prima TV Groups. The court thus upheld AKTV’s argument that the repository operator had committed an unfair competition act referred to as “stowaway” or “free riding” (also known as “impermissible parasitism”). Similar decisions have been issued against other repositories in recent months.

As part of its activities, AKTV focuses intensively on combating the illegal distribution of television series and other protected works, especially in the environment of internet repositories. AKTV’s core legal argumentation for combating internet piracy has been repeatedly found correct by the courts. The most significant achievements so far are the preliminary rulings issued against the operators of the Fastshare platform or the eDisk.cz and Sledujteto.cz repositories.

Television broadcasters have long spent large amounts of money on the production of original Czech series and other audiovisual works subsequently published on television or in the online video libraries Voyo and prima+. At the same time, however, these exclusive series, films or programmes are illegally disseminated almost immediately after their official publication via online repositories where they are available for download or online playback. These repositories, such as eDisk.cz or Sledujteto.cz, not only provide their users with the space to upload and download these works but encourage such infringement by rewarding active users who upload popular titles that are then downloaded or watched online by other users.

"The decisions of the Regional Court in Ostrava and the Regional Court in Brno, both of which were upheld by the High Court in Olomouc, represent a significant breakthrough in our previous decision-making practice and a very important signal for all copyright holders. Every year we spend hundreds of millions of crowns on the production of original Czech works for our audiences, and virtually all works are illegally shared immediately after publication. This fundamentally damages our business model and reduces our return on investment. Absurdly, repository operators profit significantly from our attractive content, for example by selling download credits or even advertising alongside our copyrighted content,"

says Klára Brachtlová, President of the Association of Commercial Television.

AKTV initiated legal action against the operators of eDisk.cz and Sledujteto.cz this year. In the spring, AKTV filed a motion for a preliminary ruling with the Regional Court in Ostrava against the operator of Fastshare and in the autumn a similar motion against the operators of eDisk.cz and Sledujteto.cz with the Regional Court in Brno. Both courts issued preliminary rulings on the grounds that the platforms’ profits are generated through the continuous unauthorised distribution of titles whose creation is financed exclusively by Nova and Prima. The operators of the repositories in question were ordered to refrain from allowing the uploading, downloading or online viewing of exclusive audiovisual works of Nova and Prima TV Groups. The preliminary ruling was then confirmed by the High Court in Olomouc as the Court of Appeal.

"We are very pleased that the court has upheld our legal view that other competitors cannot be allowed to actively enable, support and develop a business based on deriving a financial benefit from the actions of their users that is based on massive infringement of others’ copyright. The court has found that this may cause harm to both television groups, in particular in the form of audience churn, dilution and loss of exclusivity of individual series, reduced interest in their video libraries, as well as reduced advertising revenue and reduced profits from subscriptions to on-demand services,"

adds the counsel of the Association of Commercial Television, doc. JUDr. Dana Ondrejová, Ph.D., Legato legal office.

"Our long-term goal is to protect our content and prevent any loss of its value as much as possible. We are ready to negotiate with the operators of Internet repositories and jointly set conditions and technical measures to prevent illegal sharing. If, however, instead of engaging in dialogue with us, these operators prefer to transfer their service to another domain or change to a foreign company based in the Seychelles, we consider this a clear signal that they are trying to avoid their legal obligations in every possible way and are indifferent to compliance with the law,"

adds Klára Brachtlová.

In addition to taking legal action against the operators of the most infringing repositories, the Association of Commercial Television has long focused on awareness-raising activities. As part of these initiatives, it operates an information website on copyright, which is available at aktv.cz/copyright. You can find there a glossary explaining the terms used in the field of intellectual property protection, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), and regular news on internet piracy. There is also an up-to-date series of articles on the new study Online Copyright Infringement in the European Union, published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), available on the website.