Clayton Utz coaches Isentia to Federal Court win over ANC

This ruling is the first in Australia to interpret the Copyright Act as it applies to the government

Clayton Utz coaches Isentia to Federal Court win over ANC

Clayton Utz has helped Isentia to a win in Federal Court over News Corp Australia subsidiary Australian News Channel Pty Ltd (ANC).

This case is the first in Australia to directly examine the Copyright Act’s section 183(1) as it applies to the government. The firm described it as “a key case for the media sector, particularly the media and communications professionals who support the government in performing its functions”.

Australian News Channel Pty Ltd v Isentia Pty Limited [2024] FCA 363 commenced in 2021 when ANC filed a claim to restrict Isentia from distributing Sky News media content to government agencies.

ANC had granted exclusive distribution rights to another media monitoring service, and effective 1 September 2021, only a single media monitoring organisation could offer all the content from Sky News Australia. However, Isentia continued to share Sky News content to government clients that had authorised it under section 183(1) of the Copyright Act, which permits the use of copyrighted material for the services of the Crown.

ANC challenged this provision's applicability and sought declaratory relief, claiming that Isentia’s distribution of Sky News content to the government did not constitute a service to the Commonwealth or a state. The court dismissed these claims.

Clayton Utz lead partner Tim Webb pointed out that the ruling “upholds Isentia's long-standing view that the government has the right to access and use copyright material including media content, as it assists the government to perform its proper functions”.

Webb was supported by senior associates Joel Parsons and Francesca Teng and lawyer Carla Rank.

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