The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Seven spokesman Simon Francis said: “Anyone knows there’s no copyright in an idea, and the TiVo television commercial is one of many out there at the moment expressing the same idea – worlds which are opened up to consumers by new technology and the information and entertainment which unfolds for them when they use that new technology.” He also said it was an independent creation by Seven’s inhouse team.
Is Francis correct? Does copyright law really allow the kind of similarity?
True, there is no copyright in an idea (worlds opening up and unfolding), but copyright protects the material expression of that idea (arguably, the use of imagery, whether cover art or screenshots, building into a city and then being sucked into a product). Not looking good for Seven.
What about the “independent creation” claim? If true, there is no infringement, because copyright only applies if there is copying, not coincidences. But the circumstances look very suspicious, especially where the original ad is a high profile one from such a well known company.
If Apple were to sue, I’d put my money on them.