Telstra, AFL win hyperlink court case against News

News Limited subsidiary Web sites found to have breached copyright laws by undermining the exclusive broadcasting rights granted to Telstra by the AFL.

Hyperlinks to Telstra-copyrighted AFL video clips on YouTube were unlawful, the Federal Court has ruled.

The hyperlinks, which were featured on News Limited subsidiary Web sites in mid-2008, were found to have breached copyright laws by undermining the exclusive broadcasting rights granted to Telstra by the AFL.

A spokesperson at Telstra said the company was pleased the court had ruled in such a way that saw its hard-won media rights upheld.

“We’re a rights-holder. We fought hard to gain these rights… If anyone chooses to act in a way that directly violates [our rights], we’re going to take action.”

Telstra and the AFL first took News Limited to court after their requests to remove the offending hyperlinks from the AdelaideNow, Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and PerthNow Web sites in May and June 2008 fell on deaf ears. In the end, it was the broadcasting behemoth YouTube who agreed to remove the infringing video clips.

“The Federal Court Orders should serve as a warning to ensure that the exclusive new media rights that Telstra holds for premier Australian sports are respected,” said Justin Milne, group managing director, Telstra media in a statement.

“If third parties are allowed to undermine these agreements, it undermines the value of future media rights and jeopardises revenues that the AFL invests in the future of the game.”

While the full details of the court settlement remain confidential, News Limited has agreed never again to provide hyperlinks to infringing AFL footage on YouTube or other related websites.

The AFL uses the revenue from media rights to support all AFL clubs, improve club facilities, upgrade sports stadiums and community facilities and fund the development of football nationwide.

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