Set for New Age Internet TV
Byline: By Steve Pain Technology Editor
Internet Protocol Television is about to revolutionise television content - but according to Birmingham legal expert Andrew Sparrow there are significant legal implications surrounding the offer of digital television and other audio visual services over broadband networks.
"IPTV is going to burst into most people's lives this year in terms of awareness and into their homes in the next couple of years," said Mr Sparrow, principal lawyer with Lecote Solicitors, the internet, tele-coms and new media law firm.
"It is the delivery of digital television using the same basic protocols that support the internet," he added.
"Until now viewing movie or TV content online has been hindered by poor quality pictures, but improvements in video compression and massive penetration of broadband is about to change that.
"It's a world which turns upside down traditional notions of television access and comes at a time when mobile TV is also becoming accepted and demanded by consumers.
"IPTV opens up the television market to a variety of new providers and may offer salvation for the telecoms industry, currently beset by cost pressures. Potentially IPTV will challenge cable and satellite companies but technology means TV programmes could come from anywhere in the world.
"There are already legal ramifications though. In this country, the UK is finalising the new Television Without Frontiers Directive which will shape the provision of audio visual services online and provide legal constraint to service providers operating in the European Union.
"This Directive is not the only law which the IPTV revolution must fight. There are many other legal controls relating to advertising content on IPTV services' data protection rules for the collection of consumer data by those offering such services' copyright and related rights regulations governing use of material forming the content of the service and clear laws on how IPTV services can be marketed online and by other means to would-be subscribers.
"In short, while many see IPTV as a marriage made in heaven for the telecoms and broadcast industries, it is a marriage close to being prevented by lawful impediment. …