Rio Olympic video coverage: Sky New Zealand fails to win injunction against Fairfax Media

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

On 12 August, 2016, Sky New Zealand (Sky) was denied an injunction in the New Zealand High Court in Auckland against Fairfax Media (Fairfax) in respect of their use of Rio 2016 video content on their ‘Stuff.co.nz’ platform.

Sky, which holds the sole rights to Olympic video coverage in New Zealand, had sought an injunction requiring Fairfax to adhere to the news access rules imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), claiming that this relief was needed in order to ensure that Sky’s copyright “was not eaten away and undermined.”

Fairfax claimed that its use of Sky’s broadcast material was within the ‘fair dealing’ rules under New Zealand Copyright Law, which allows the media to use copyright works for reporting current events.

Sky’s main contention was that the use by Fairfax of rolling video clips on ‘Stuff.co.nz’ constituted a “mounting montage of highlights” and the Judge agreed that such use could not, on any sensible interpretation of the rules, constitute ‘fair dealing’. However, the Judge noted that Fairfax had disabled this ‘auto-playing of clips’ on their website.

Fairfax claimed that the ruling in their favour against Sky constituted a “victory for press freedom and the ability to cover events of national significance.”

A case of balancing private rights against the public interest!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer Academic Author and Member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He may be contacted by e-mail at ian.blackshaw@orange.fr