Two face 5-years jail for streaming Green-Mundine fight
AT LEAST two social media users are facing fines of up to $60,000 or five years' jail for using Facebook Live to stream the Danny Green-Anthony Mundine fight on Friday.
Facebook users Darren Sharpe and Brett Hevers live streamed the $59.95 pay-per-view across the social media platform, attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers.
While some fans, who didn't want to pay for the match were delighted, the breach of copyright was a serious issue, with the broadcaster saying afterwards it would "take appropriate action".
"The incident with Facebook last weekend is not just theft. It is a threat to the future viability of live events such as boxing and to the sustainability of the content industry generally," a spokesman told news.com.au.
"The instigators of the illegal streams on Facebook were made aware that any online streaming of the event was not permitted and one has gone so far as to create a fundraising page in anticipation of his legal costs."
Any legal action from Foxtel will likely be bad news for those involved, according to a leading copyright lawyer.
Special counsel from Simpsons Solicitors Ian McDonald said those caught illegally broadcasting the fight could be prosecuted under criminal and civil law - the later being the more likely.
"On the information presented it would be a reasonably straight forward matter as there has been the rebroadcast of content over the net, with no suggestion of approval," he told news.com.au.
"A civil action would see Foxtel chasing compensation based on money lost or for whatever amount would have been charged for a commercial broadcast of the fight."
Mr McDonald also mentioned the phone call Mr Sharpe received from a Foxtel representative advising him to stop illegally broadcasting the fight.
"I want you to stop streaming it on Facebook. Just keep watching the fight at home, there's no dramas with that. Just don't stream it on Facebook," the Foxtel rep could be heard saying.
Mr Sharpe replied he believed he didn't think he was doing anything wrong and would keep streaming for the "78,000 viewers" tuning in.
This was met with another harsh response.
"It's a criminal offence against the Copyright Act, mate. We've got technical protection methods inside the box so exactly this thing can't happen," the Foxtel rep added.
Mr McDonald said Mr Sharpe could land in even hotter water because he was recorded ignoring requests from Foxtel to cease streaming the content.
"The court would be entitled to additional damages for the infringement because he ignored the notice," he said.
Foxtel refused to comment on wether it would be going after Facebook for its role in the illegal broadcast, although Mr McDonald believes it has to burden some of the responsibilities.
"Facebook could be a mere conduit because it was the chap was broadcasting the fight using his phone, however the processes to monitor and determine what is being streamed on its service is something that could have the company on the hook."
When asked on its policies, Facebook said it has human moderators to check what is being streamed, but only after videos reach an undisclosed threshold of viewership.
It added there was also a rights manager system, which copyright holders can use to have illegally posted material removed.
"As more people watch and share live video on Facebook, we've taken steps to ensure that Rights Manager protects live video streams as well," a Facebook spokesman told Mashable.
"Video publishers and media companies can also provide reference streams of live content so that we can check live video on Facebook against those reference streams in real time."
Despite claiming to have contingencies in place, Facebook could be doing more to protect the content of rights holders, with the company's Live broadcast map showing multiple broadcasts breaking copyright at any point in time.
If Foxtel takes the streamers to court, it will not be the first high-profile piracy case the subscription TV company has been involved in.
Along with Australia's major film distributor Village Roadshow, Foxtel tested the waters of the new site blocking legislation passed in June 2015.
Both parties applied to have 61 domain names - including the popular Torrentz, IsoHunt, TorrentHound and the Pirate Bay - blocked by Aussie internet service providers.
In December last year, after nearly a year in the court system, a Federal Court handed down the verdict that ruled that ISPs must "take reasonable steps to disable access" to such sites.
The judge also supported the application of rolling injunctions to make it easier to chase offending sites.
It remains to be seen how effectively ISPs, at the behest of rights holders, can prevent access to websites hosting offending material.
Do you think the Facebook Live streamers should be taken to court? Continue the conversation in the comments below or with Matthew Dunn on Facebook and Twitter.
News Corp is a 50 per cent owner of Foxtel.