CallPlus backed down. From September it will stop providing Global Mode, a service allowing customers to hide their whereabouts so they can buy low-cost streaming video services direct from the US, UK or elsewhere.
In return the big media companies halted legal action against CallPlus.
Among other things they claimed Global Mode breached the Copyright Act and the Fair Trading Act.
That won’t be tested in court. We’ll never know if Global Mode was legal or not. That’s a pity because it leaves important questions unanswered.
Plenty has been written elsewhere (and by me) on what is a rearguard action against new digital distribution models.
This was always going to end badly for the big media companies, even if they won the Global Mode action.
That’s in part because Global Mode was a local version of something consumers can buy elsewhere.
While the King Canute media companies have stopped a wave, they haven’t stopped the tide.
There’s something else.
Regardless of the untested legal arguments, Global Mode looked like a legitimate way of bypassing content geo-blocking. Consumers who used it felt they were doing the right thing. They were buying media.
It has taken the media business decades to convince consumers they should pay for media and not use shady operations like Pirate Bay.
And for a while they were.
Overnight, the big media companies have closed that channel. Consumers addicted to the latest shows, to entertainment not available from officially sanctioned New Zealand distributors now have nowhere else to turn.
Some will lose interest. Others will head back to illegal channels.
That is not a victory for media companies.