Landlady’s court win makes it interesting for Sky (and F1 fans)

A UK based Pub Landlady has won the latest stage of her court fight in the European Court of Justice.

Karen Murphy had appealed to the European Court after being landed with nearly 8000 UK Pounds in fines and costs for using a Greek decoder to watch Premier League Football games in her Pub rather than using one from the UK rights owner Sky.

From the judgement

In its judgment delivered today, the Court of Justice holds that national legislation which prohibits the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services and cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums.
So far as concerns the possibility of justifying that restriction in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights, the Court observes that the FAPL cannot claim copyright in the Premier League matches themselves, as those sporting events cannot be considered to be an author’s own intellectual creation and, therefore, to be ‘works’ for the purposes of copyright in the European Union.
Also, even if national law were to confer comparable protection upon sporting events – which would, in principle, be compatible with EU law – a prohibition on using foreign decoder cards would go beyond what is necessary to ensure appropriate remuneration for the holders of the rights concerned.

So it appears that UK homes could now legally import overseas decoders and cards to view live sporting events. It is likely this will apply to Formula One Racing as well (although this is not a legal opinion) – which would please Ian.

One slight fly in the ointment was the following also from the judgement:

Finally, as regards the questions asked concerning the interpretation of the Copyright Directive1, the Court notes first of all that only the opening video sequence, the Premier League anthem, pre-recorded films showing highlights of recent Premier League matches and various graphics can be regarded as ‘works’ and are therefore protected by copyright. By contrast, the matches themselves are not works enjoying such protection.
That being so, the Court decides that transmission in a pub of the broadcasts containing those protected works, such as the opening video sequence or the Premier League anthem, constitutes a ‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of the copyright directive, for which the authorisation of the author of the works is necessary, because when a pub transmits those works to the customers present on the premises the works are transmitted to an additional public which was not considered by the authors when they authorised the broadcasting of their works.

 

Note this only refers to communication to the public so in home use may be safe from this.

From a Media Center user’s point of view this could be quite interesting as there are a number of EU countries where decoder cards are available which are compatible with Media Center (and DVBLink as well) – Of course the coverage won’t be necessarily be in English.

From Sky’s point of view it could be a nightmare they get an awful lot of revenue from bars and clubs.

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Regular presenter and occasional host on The Digital Lifestyle Show. Contributing writer. Convenience Computing enthusiast. Author of the Media Center Decoder tool. Microsoft MVP