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TVCatchup heading for courtroom drama with ITV, Channel 4 and Five

ITV, Channel 4 and Five have been given the go-ahead to pursue TVCatchup in court. Is this the end of streaming television live to the Internet?

A courtroom drama is coming soon to television, but it's all unfolding in real life. The High Court has ruled that ITV, Channel 4 and Five can challenge TV-streaming website TVCatchup.

A High Court judge ruled that the copyright infringement claim by broadcasters has a real chance of success, declining TVCatchup's application to throw the claim out before it went any further. The full case will be heard in 2011.

TVCatchup streams live broadcast telly directly to your browser, with its own adverts added. It streams 50 Freeview channels, including BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, and Dave, Film4 and CBeebies.

There are a number of websites capturing TV signals and streaming them to the web, all claiming different loopholes in the law. TVCatchup claims that it does not technically 'broadcast', as programmes are sent individually to web viewers on a one-to-one basis, rather than the one-to-many model of proper telly.

Although the TV channels don't contest this, they reckon their exclusive rights to their own content extends to this one-to-one model as well as telly broadcast. The results of the case will set an interesting precedent for the online TV industry.

TVCatchup has already been closed down once in 2008 when it began life as a digital video recording service, before returning in its current form later that year.

Similar Swiss service Zattoo no longer streams UK telly; it's still running if you fancy a bit of Red Bull TV, Russia TV or Al Jazeera. Zattoo quickly lost interest in Blighty when it became clear that the broadcasters of our fine nation were prepared to mount a costly legal challenge to the service. 

Catch up with TVCatchup -- while you still can -- at TVCatchup.com. You'll need a TV licence.