Consumers may yet feel the effects of a legal challenge to "Global Mode" services offering backdoor access to US film and TV content.
Campaigners against "geo-blocking" of film and TV rights have played down the prospects for New Zealand media companies to undermine Global Mode services that enable consumers to get access to otherwise blocked content.
Intellectual property lawyer Paul Johns, of Baldwins, said the four New Zealand media companies threatening action would have a case in relation to a breach of copyright, if they went ahead with legal threats against Global Mode companies.
The four companies dominate the broadcasting industry - TVNZ, Sky TV, MediaWorks and Spark.
TVNZ and Sky TV yesterday insisted they intended to follow through with legal action if Global Mode companies Orcon, Slingshot and Global Bypass did not stop providing services. Call Plus, owner of Slingshot and Orcon, did not return calls.
Johns, who is head of dispute resolution at Baldwins, said the media companies' move was significant, given the recent arrival of Netflix in the New Zealand video-on-demand market.
The public are often of the view that because something is easy to do then it is legally unenforceable, but the question is whether copyright has been breached.
Johns said he expected that if the media companies did take action it would proceed as a copyright case.
"The public are often of the view that because something is easy to do then it is legally unenforceable, but the question is whether copyright has been breached," he said.
"Companies offering Global Mode have been selling it as providing users access to that programming.
"I think that if competing companies like these are working together then you have to believe they are taking it seriously."
Both TVNZ and Sky said they had paid studios premium prices for exclusive rights.
TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said studios were aware of the action being taken.