Pub pair stung with football streaming fines
By Colin Mann

A father and son who run a number of pubs in the northern UK city of Kingston upon Hull are liable to fines and costs of some £116,000 (€138,000) for allowing streaming of Premier League football over the Internet in 11 of their establishments.

Alister Darroch and his son Charles (who coincidentally share the same surname as BSkyB CEO Jeremy) were fined £33,000 each at Hull Magistrates Court for offences under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act relating to the broadcasting of Premier League games in their pubs. Both were fined £3,000 each per pub and were also ordered to pay around £25,000 each in costs.

The pair accessed the games via a North African TV station over the Internet instead of using a foreign satellite decoder card – avoiding paying £119,000 that should have gone to BSkyB.

The court rejected pleas from the defence that the case was affected by the recent opinion at the European Court of Justice relating to foreign decoder cards.

Ray Hoskin, managing director of Media Protection Services, which conducts investigations and prosecutions for the Premier League, said: “This serious case was notable for two reasons, the first being the scale of fines and costs imposed. The second is that this is the first case not directly involving a decoder card, but copyright offences committed via an Internet device.”

Hoskin said he was disappointed that a minority of publicans still ignored the many warnings given by the courts and Media Protection Services over a period of years. Investigators sent the Darrochs 40 warning letters after covert officers saw the matches, but the pair ignored them.

District Judge Fred Rutherford said it “beggared belief” that they took no notice of the letters and said their crimes had given them a “significant advantage” over other pubs in the area, adding that the defendants obviously did not care about the pubs screening Sky matches legitimately, which is why the penalties were so severe.