Sky TV takes Fairfax/Stuff to court over Olympic “fair use”


Sky TV [NZX: SKT] has confirmed to NBR that, having been unsuccessful in getting an injunction against Fairfax NZ over its use of Rio Olympics footage, it will now take its issue with the publisher (and recent entrant into the “video content space”) to a full trial.

Sky TV chief executive John Fellet told NBR Radio going to trial is the only way to get a resolution on the issue.

He says he wasn’t surprised Sky’s injunction bid didn’t succeed, noting that “we got what we needed out it – Fairfax was kind enough to go back to [playing] a couple of minutes [of Olympic footage] a day, which we can certainly live with…

“I think they were up to nine minutes [a day] before the injunction, which just starts to sap away viewership – you don’t need Sky, you don’t even need to watch Prime on free to air, you can just watch a highlights show.” […]

[Sky’s] Mr Fellet strikes a relatively philosophical pose on the stoush, saying, “I understand the need for [Fairfax] to modify its business plans but, you know if you start using someone else’s rights you end up having to pay…”NBR understands a court conference will be held in the next two to three weeks, following which the trial date will be set.

Sky TV are in for a hiding here.  We calculated that there was about 80 hours of coverage during the Olympics ever day, with concurrent transmissions on Sky TV channels and Prime TV.   For Fairfax, or anyone else, to use 3-5 minutes a day under the “Fair use” provisions is reasonable, even under Sky’s own informal existing gentlemen’s rules.   Apparently 9 minutes was taking the proverbial and damaging Sky’s business, even though their subscriptions were all taken out in advance.

It’s rather arbitrary.  There is no way you can defend 5 minutes and not 9 out of 80 hours of material.  Sky TV are likely to get a decision they will not like, and one that is even worse than 9 minutes out of 80 hours.

On the good side, it will give a precedent for all other media as to how much of a they can grab off each other for the purposes of news reporting and review.



  • AF

    It’s current affairs, it should be able to be reported on.

    • dave

      See above. Because Fairfax take it and wrap advertising around it.

  • Alan Beresford B’Stard

    Sky would be better off spending money on fixing their new interface and creating a remote that works properly, something that actually benefits their customers.

  • Goldie

    The clips I looked at on Stuff at the time seemed to be about 10 seconds long, with a 15 second ad in the middle of it! I didn’t bother after a while. Sky have always been over protective about this sort of thing, which rather than protecting their business, is just giving them a bad name. Glad I ditched them a year or so ago.

    • dave

      Yeah, that’s real issue. Stuff and others have spent nothing to get that video content and make money from it by selling advertising space on others’ copyrighted material.

  • shykiwibloke

    Even if Sky loose, they win:- they then have a powerful negotiating tactic with sports content vendors to obtain a lower purchase price.
    I may be wrong – but I suspect this trial will be anticipated to last awhile, but be wrapped up before the next round of Rugby rights negotiations in a couple of years or so.