Internet re-broadcaster predicts rapid growth

The company has been the subject of controversy over its decision to re-broadcast the UK's five terrestrial television channels without the stations' permission, relying on an exemption in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 that was designed for the cable industry.

The company's founder, Sugih Jamin, told weekly podcast OUT-LAW Radio that it believes it complies with copyright and broadcasting laws in all of the eight countries in which it operates.

He also outlined the company's plans for growth. He said that the company has 2.2 million users and that it would have five million users by the end of the year. He said that the UK service will have 400,000 users within its first year of launch.

The Switzerland-based firm only re-broadcasts uninterrupted, unchanged live feeds of television without the kind of watch-again or archive capabilities of broadcasters' own systems.

This puts it in a very particular position when it comes to licensing in the UK. The firm claims its re-broadcasting without permission is permissible under laws designed to allow cable television firms to operate.

Alexandra Illes negotiates rights in the UK for the company, and she explained to OUT-LAW Radio what Zattoo believes the law to be.

"We have been treated equivalent to cable providers," she said. "The relevant factors in the laws on the European level with the Cable and Satellite Directive as well as national laws is that the transmission of the broadcasting signals is simultaneous, unaltered, unabridged, to a closed user group through a cable infrastructure, and that's what Zattoo does."

Jamin believes that the service could be of benefit to broadcasters who are, he said, struggling to reach young people in an age of ubiquitous broadband internet.

"They have lost touch with live TV, they are basically a lost generation to live TV," he said. "Zattoo for the first time will bring live TV back in contact with the Facebook generation."

"They will be getting news and entertainment through the internet, from YouTube, from Hulu, from all the sites that provide non-live TV content," he said. "Our audience demographic is 18 to 34 and we bring this generation back to the broadcasters."