The relationship between copyright and the internet is not always an easy one. This case is another example of that tension. It is a test case about infringement of copyright in sound recordings under section 20 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Section 20 provides for the communication right in UK law. A balance has to be struck between the interests of the copyright owner in protecting its exclusive rights, and the interests of the public in freedom of access to the internet. The claimants say that a finding for the defendant will fatally undermine copyright. The defendant says that a finding for the claimants will break the internet. (highlight added)
Basically, TuneInis a very sophisticated web site that allows anyone anywhere to “tune in” into more than 100,000 radio stations around the word. Most of them, of course, have licenses in the country where the station is located. But few of them have UK licenses. TuneIn is basically like a magic antenna that links to radio stations everywhere in the world with a lot of useful search and other built in utility. It has ads and a premium version with additional features. Does that sound familiar? It has more than 75 million regular users around the world according to Wikipedia.
- TuneIn is “targeting” UK users and is liable for communication;
- Individual users who use the “record” function are liable for copying;
- Providers of stations other than those licensed in UK are liable;
- TuneIn is liable for “authorisation” (somewhat like but not the same as “contributory infringement” in USA) and as a “joint tortfeasor”;
- TuneIn cannot rely on safe harbour provisions; and,
- TuneIn can only legally link to and stream stations that are already licensed in the UK.