Telstra wins online football rights appeal

Australian telco Telstra has won a Federal Court appeal against rival Optus over online broadcasting of the country’s top football codes, overturning a landmark ruling that sports bodies said had threatened to strip them of revenue.

The court ruled that Optus, a unit of Singapore Telecommunications, had infringed the copyright of the Australian Football League (AFL) and the National Rugby League (NRL) by allowing users to record matches and replay them via the Internet as little as two minutes later than the live TV broadcast.

Telstra, which owns the exclusive Internet rights for the two codes’ games, said the decision gave assurance to content vendors and sports organisations.

“What it means is the certainty for the content providers, the sporting bodies in their income,” a Telstra spokesman said after the ruling. “And that’s important for fans, for players and for Australian sport in general.”

Telstra has a A$153 million ($159 million) contract with the AFL for Internet broadcast rights to football games, and is negotiating the next round of broadcast rights with the NRL.

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