The AFL and other major sport bodies met the Prime Minister and senior ministers yesterday to demand changes to the law to protect hundreds of millions of dollars of internet rights.
The chiefs of Australia's biggest sporting codes have used their considerable clout to push the government for urgent changes to copyright law following a court ruling allowing Optus to broadcast delayed video of matches to its mobile phone network. Last week, Optus won a landmark copyright case in the Federal Court, which ruled the telco could record and transmit free-to-air television coverage of football and cricket matches over the internet to its customers.
The AFL, NRL and Telstra were seeking an injunction against Optus' TV Now service, that allowed Optus to transmit TV footage - such as live football matches - on delays of one to two minutes to Apple mobile devices.
The decision infuriated Telstra and major sports who have exclusive billion dollar broadcast rights deals. On the first sitting day of the year, the chief executives of the AFL, Cricket Australia, NRL and Tennis Australia met Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, Sports Minister Mark Arbib and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon to propose a ''simple'' amendment to the Copyright Act. Julia Gillard ''stopped by the meeting'', which included Andrew Demetriou, James Sutherland and David Gallop, her spokesman said.
The four sports, along with netball, rugby and soccer, form the Coalition of Major Professional & Participation Sports. It also met Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's chief of staff Peta Credlin to seek bipartisan support. Executive director Malcolm Speed said the group wanted to clarify a provision in the Copyright Act for sports to maintain the right to exclusively sell their digital content to broadcasters.
Lawyers representing the sports and the government will now meet to discuss further details. NRL chief executive Mr Gallop said the sports wanted to show they were united in their need for a ''quick but simple'' amendment to copyright laws.