Premier League to go two-footed into copyright pirates
Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 05-02-2012
England’s Premier League is claiming a right result in a legal ruling in its on-going campaign to prevent unauthorised viewing of its football matches in the UK using foreign decoders.
The case centres on the use of decoder cards, notably by pubs and other licensed premises from EU countries to watch Premier League matches at a cost a fraction of that charged by rights holder Sky.
In what was seen as a landmark ruling for the broadcasting industry, the European Court of Justice ruled in October that it was perfectly legal to show English Premier League football with a non-UK TV subscription, backing an appeal by Portsmouth pub landlady Karen Murphy who had been taken to court for breach of copyright by using, like hundreds of pubs in the UK, a non-UK, that is non-BSkyB, satellite TV smart card to show games.
The ECJ ruling said that “a system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches which grants broadcasters territorial exclusivity on a Member State basis and which prohibits television viewers from watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other Member States is contrary to EU law.”
However in a caveat the ECJ added that the screening in a pub of football match broadcasts containing protected works requires the authorisation of “the author of those works”, though noting that that so far as justifying restrictions on the grounds of protecting intellectual property rights, the Premier League could not claim copyright in the matches themselves, as they could be considered to be an “author’s own intellectual creation” and, therefore, ‘works’ for the purposes of copyright in the European Union.
In the latest action by the UK High Court, Judge David Kitchin ruled that pubs were violating the Premier League’s copyright when their patrons can view footage of previous matches, logos, pre-recorded video sequences and ‘anthems’ that were not authorised for use across borders but that Premier League had only proved its claims of breach of copyright "to a limited extent". Lord Justice Kitchen said: "the defendants who are continuing to trade must be entitled to carry on their business in a way which avoids infringement of [Premier League] copyright if they are able to do so".
Setting its stall out, the Premier League claimed the ruling as a victory saying and promised to resume actions against publicans who were using European Economic Area foreign satellite systems to show Premier League football on their premises unlawfully and without our authority. It said: “Lord Justice Kitchin's judgement is consistent with the ECJ ruling. It is clear that the law gives us the right to prevent the unauthorised use of our copyrights in pubs and clubs when they are communicated to the public without our authority…There are other elements of the ECJ ruling which we believe are applicable under UK law and we will continue to explore these to protect our rights via the courts and other legal means."