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Aussie TV production house takes on Apple

Lend me your ears, I’ll sing you a lawsuit

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Australia’s most notorious career-and-media criminal, the earless Mark "Chopper" Read, has unwittingly sparked a David and Goliath legal wrangle between independent Australian production company Jigsaw Entertainment and Apple.

The "Chopper Soundboard" app released by a 14-year-old developer surfaced last year on iTunes. It features sound-bites and images of an actor playing Chopper Read, sampled without clearance from Jigsaw Entertainment. The content excerpts came from the TV show The Ronnie Johns Half Hour, which Jigsaw produced.

The app made it into Australia's top-five apps during mid 2010, selling for US$0.99 – with Jigsaw claiming that somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 copies were sold. Jigsaw Entertainment took the matter to the Federal Court in November, claiming that Apple is responsible for the alleged copyright infringements.

A directions hearing took place in Sydney yesterday, 15 March, following a failed mediation process. The matter continues with the next hearing set for 31 March.

Neither Apple nor its Clayton Utz legal team has commented on the imbroglio which, if settled in Jigsaw's favour, could set an onerous legal precedent for Apple.

While the app was finally taken off the app store after many weeks of complaint from Jigsaw, the production company wants to highlight Apple's responsibility in allowing such a copyright infringement to occur and for a prolonged period of time. Jigsaw also claims that the badly reviewed app also reflects badly on the reputation of the company and its own production values. ®

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