Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Fairfax seeks full trial over use of Sky TV Rio Olympics video

Seppe Van Holsbeke of Belgium, left, and Eli Dershwitz of the United States compete in a men's individual sabre event at the Rio Olympics. Photo / AP
Seppe Van Holsbeke of Belgium, left, and Eli Dershwitz of the United States compete in a men's individual sabre event at the Rio Olympics. Photo / AP

Fairfax wants to take the dispute over its use of Sky Television's Olympic footage to a full trial, its Queen's Counsel has told the High Court this morning.

Fairfax is opposing Sky's attempt to get an interim injunction, which aimed at stopping the way the media company is using Olympic Games video clips on its website

Fairfax lawyer David Goddard said when the hearing resumed this morning that if Sky got its injunction the case would never go to trial.

The ruling on the injunction would also influence how future events are treated, Goddard said.

"A line will have been drawn," the QC said.

It was better that the injunction be refused and that the fight go to a full trial where all the facts were presented, he said.

Goddard also said there was no evidence that the International Olympic Committee, which Sky has an agreement with, was the holder of copyright for the Games.

A claim for damages could be made during that trial and also declarations sought from a judge, he said.

Sky Television argued yesterday that Fairfax's use of Olympic footage directly competes with its own broadcasts and that it needed an injunction to ensure its copyright "was not eaten away and undermined"

Sky's lawyer Julian Miles, QC, said the company had spent millions of dollars for the rights to broadcast the event.

Miles said the injunction wasn't an attempt to prevent New Zealanders from watching the Olympics and that Sky had 12 channels devoted to the Games, with about 15 hours of coverage a day being screened on free-to-air Prime Television.

"We say the way in which Fairfax has taken our footage and used it in the way they have is not reporting for the purpose of current events, it is essentially for entertainment," Miles said.

"The exploitation of Sky's footage competes directly with what it paid for", he said.

It damaged Sky's core business and deprived the television network of the full benefit of what it paid for, he said.

"Continuous posting [online] of video clips effectively produces an ongoing highlights package which is the antithesis of news reporting," Miles said.

He said the Fairfax website was posting clips of the Games that remain online for as long as the media company chooses.

"You have a continuous mounting montage of highlights," he said.

"It directly competes with continuous filming that Sky has set up on its 12 channels and the free-to-air Prime."

There had already been a dip in the viewer numbers that Sky had anticipated, Miles said.

The hearing is expected to run until lunchtime today.

- NZ Herald

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