(1) The appellant/plaintiff, RecordTV, was the provider of a remote-store digital video recorder service, known as iDVR or Internet digital video recorder, which allowed its registered users to request the recording of the respondents/defendants' free-to-air broadcasts in Singapore, based on the scheduling information of the respondents' programming which the appellant has provided. The respondents' broadcasts were received by the appellant's roof-mounted antenna and routed to the appellant's recording computers. If a registered user requested a recording, the appellant's control software would instruct the system to record the said program. Once a recording was made and stored on the appellant's premises' computers, it was made available for viewing to the user who requested the recording on their computers or their TVs. At the end of 15 days after the date of recording, the recordings were deleted.
(2) In relation to its recording system, the appellant's system underwent three configuration changes. In phase 1, the system eliminated the duplication of copies and made only 1 recording despite multiple registered users' requests for the same program to be recorded. In phase 2, the system would make multiple copies of recordings based on multiple user requests for the same programming, but would switch to a single copy being made if system resources were insufficient. In phase 3, the system was reconfigured so that individual copies of the same programming were made for each requesting registered user. The changes were ostensibly made in response to the judgment of the 2nd Circuit in the Cartoon Network LP v CSC Holdings (the Cablevision case). (For purposes of these proceedings, only the appellant's system in relation to phase 1 and phase 2 were in issue.)
(3) The respondents' objected, contending that the use of iDVR infringed its copyright in its MediaCorp programming (broadcasts and films). When the defendant commenced groundless threats of infringement proceedings, the plaintiffs in turn counterclaimed for copyright infringement and sought injunctive relief.
(4) The High Court allowed the respondents' claim against the appellant for copyright infringement. The appellant appealed.
(5) The Court of Appeal reversed the High Court. It found that it was the registered users requesting the recording of the shows using the appellant's iDVR service rather than the appellant who copied the respondents' programming.
(6) The court also held that the appellant did not communicate the recorded shows to the public – it was the registered users who requested the recording of a particular show and the registered users who did so did not constitute "the public" for purposes of ss 83 and 84 of the Copyright Act.
(7) The court also held that there is no reason why the aggregate of private and individual communications made to each registered user should transform the nature of such communications into "public" communications. Each registered user could only access the particular show he had requested to be recorded, and not the entire library of recorded works made by the appellant.
(9) The court did not have to deal with the defenses of safe harbor protection and fair use.
Topic, claim, or defense
Appellate Domestic Court
Type of service provider
Cable/Digital Video Recorder/TV
Type of law
General effect on immunity