Peer-to-peer TV software hit by injunction
26 April 2005
HAMBURG – A new type of free software that allows internet users to share their television fare with millions of users worldwide was halted on Tuesday by an injunction from a German court.
Broadcasters around the globe are worried at the development of Cybersky-TV, a German-devised software that does to television what Napster did to music. Using a peer-to-peer network, viewers can use a computer to swap whatever they are currently watching.
Premiere, a German pay-TV company, won an injunction in Hamburg against the developer, TC Unterhaltungselektronik of Germany. Judges prohibited TCU from distributing any software that enabled people to watch a Premiere show via the Internet without paying.
But Guido Ciburski, a TCU director and the software engineer who is responsible for the software, said on Tuesday the launch could no longer be stopped because vendors were distributing the free software from servers outside of Germany’s jurisdiction.
To use the software, one user switches on his television and hooks it up to the computer, which then rebroadcasts the current TV show to anyone on the internet who logs in and has a fast broadband connection. The signals arrive with a time lag of five to 10 seconds.
In a peer-to-peer network, each personal computer helps distribute a few snippets of the signal, and there is no central server.
The promoters of Cybersky TV say this will revolutionise TV, with broadcasters no longer able to control who watches broadcasts. Viewers will not have to wait months or years before talked-about shows arrive in their nation.
But there have been warnings that CyberSky faces a deluge of lawsuits around the world.
Hamburg justice officials said the injunction, which relies on German copyright law, remained contingent on the outcome of the main legal dispute between TCU and Premiere. TCU was also prohibited from advertising its software as a way to obtain “free pay TV”.
TCU maintains it is not to blame, if users decide to rebroadcast Premiere in breach of their own contracts with the channel. Normally viewers cannot watch pay TV unless they buy a set-top decoder box and pay a monthly subscription.
Subject: German news