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Pub wins latest Sky football case

February 24, 2012

The British pub landlady who won a partial victory at the ECJ over using a Greek services decoder to watch the English Premier League, has won the latest legal round at the UK High Court.

Instead of using Sky, on which it costs £700 (€824) a month to see Premier League matches, she used the Greek TV station Nova, which has the rights to screen the games in Greece, and which cost her £800 a year. She took her case to the European Court of Justice which ruled in October 2011 that having an exclusive system was “contrary to EU law”.

She has originally been fined £8,000 in the UK courts but now the High Court in London has ruled that Karen Murphy’s appeal over using the decoder to bypass controls over match screening must be allowed and her conviction was quashed. But a judge made clear that the other complex issues regarding the wider legality of screening matches would have to be decided “at a later date”. The High Court had originally sent the case to the European courts for advice on numerous points of law.

The ECJ said last autumn that national laws that prohibit the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards were contrary to the freedom to provide services.

The European judges also said the Premier League could not claim copyright over Premier League matches as they could not be considered to be an author’s own “intellectual creation” and, therefore, to be “works” for the purposes of EU copyright law.

But it did say that while live matches were not protected by copyright, any surrounding media, such as any opening video sequence, the Premier League anthem, pre-recorded films showing highlights of recent Premier League matches and various graphics, were “works” protected by copyright.

To use any of these extra parts associated for a broadcast, a pub would need the permission of the Premier League.


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