Can publicans be prevented from purchasing foreign decoder cards to screen Football Association Premier League (FAPL) matches in their pubs in the UK? If they do buy and use such cards, does this breach FAPL’s copyrights? As well as generating substantial press attention, these questions have resulted in a number of European and national judgments in recent months.
Following the decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on questions referred to it in two related cases, the English High Court has now moved the game on. The CJEU found that provisions in FAPL licences requiring licensees not to sell decoders outside the licensed territory had an anticompetitive purpose contrary to article 101 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Any victory felt by the publicans was Pyrrhic, though, since the court also found that, under European law, the showings of the broadcasts in pubs would infringe FAPL’s copyright in elements of the broadcast such as the opening video sequence, Premier League anthem and prerecorded highlights of historic matches. But the High Court, has found that, under English law, showings of prerecorded “film” content included in the broadcasts, do not infringe FAPL’s copyrights due to a specific exception in UK legislation. However, the communication to the public of other types of copyright material included in the broadcasts – such as Premier League logos and the Premier League anthem – would infringe FAPL’s copyrights.
On 24 February 2012, the related series of judgments culminated in the quashing by the High Court of the convictions of Mrs Murphy, the Southsea pub landlady, under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the 1988 Act).
Download the .PDF to learn more.