Sports match: no copyright
A licensing system for the broadcast of football matches
providing broadcasters territorial exclusivity in a Member State
and prohibiting television viewers with a decoder card in other EU
member states to watch those broadcasts, is contrary to European
On October 4, 2011, the Court of Justice ruled on TV broadcasting rights for the English Premier League, copyright issues of access with foreign decoders and public display in the pubs. For a detailed summary of the case and the facts: see the article in Dutch language by Femke Vos at www.ie-forum.nl.
The licensing system for broadcasting of 'Premier League' matches with contractual geographical restrictions for the use of decoder cards, according to the European highest judge conflicts with European legislation. More specifically, it is contrary to competition law and constitutes unlawful restrictions on trade between Member States.
No copyright on sport matches
Furthermore, the Court held that the matches themselves are not protected by copyright: "However, sporting events cannot be regarded as intellectual creations classifiable as works within the meaning of the Copyright Directive. That applies in particular to football matches, which are subject to rules of the game, leaving no room for creative freedom for the purposes of copyright."
The opening video, the 'Premier League' anthem, the pre-recorded videos with highlights of recent matches in the 'Premier League' and some graphic images, however, do present copyrighted works.
A ban on the use of foreign decoder cards goes much further than is necessary for the beneficiaries to ensure adequate compensation.
In addition, with regard to cafes in the United Kingdom using a Greek decoder card to display Premier League matches the Court ruled:
a) the exclusive reproduction right also applies to temporary fragments from the works
- in the memory of a satellite decoder
- on a television screen
provided that those fragments contain elements expressing the intellectual creation of the authors involved;
b) but for acts of reproduction which take place in the memory of a satellite decoder and on a television screen, no consent of the copyright holders is required.
Display in cafes
Finally, the Court gave some copyright rules regarding the display in cafes and bars.
There is 'communication to the public' within the meaning of the Copyright Directive, if the broadcasted works are shown in cafes to its customers. This requires prior permission. We note that this is not new for the Netherlands.
The full text of the judgement can be found here.
publicatiedatum: Tuesday, October 11, 2011
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