Launched in 2007, TVkaista allowed users to record live TV broadcasts and store them in the cloud to enjoy later. Rightsholders insisted that, without a license, TVkaista was an illegal service. In subsequent legal action, the operators of the service faced allegations of criminal copyright infringement and fraud. Seventeen years after TVkaista’s launch, its former CEO has just been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $505,000 in compensation.

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Given the ongoing shift in the TV market away from terrestrial and satellite delivery in favor of IP-based services, cloud recording services are no longer the big deal they once were.

When TVkaista launched in Finland way back in 2007, storing video in the cloud certainly wasn’t taken for granted as it is now. The service came with a program guide and allowed users to record and store TV shows from 15 local channels. TVkaista said video would be retained for a month, allowing users to watch their recordings at a time of their choosing.

At the time, similar services were also being offered by several of Finland’s internet service providers but for the members of the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Center (CIAPC, also known as TTVK), this was a serious breach of copyright law. In letters sent to around 20 companies, TTVK warned that without proper licensing, these services were illegal and must be shut down.

TVkaista Faces Legal Action

In advance of TTVK’s letters being sent out, TVkaista’s CEO, technical director, and legal advisor, faced legal action for criminal copyright infringement and aggravated fraud. Claims that recording amounted to fair use were brushed aside, not least since the service actually recorded everything behind the scenes, contrary to customers’ belief that any recordings played back via the service were unique to them.

TVkaista said that since its service was similar to a VCR or a DVR, that would be legal under Finnish law since private copying is permitted for personal use. The TV companies whose content was being recorded and fed back to subscribers of TVkaista disagreed, arguing that no permission was granted for this type of use.

The broadcasters claimed that the TVkaista service effectively rebroadcast their content without a license. Copyright holders weren’t being paid for the use of their content and TVkaista wasn’t offering to share any revenue.

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