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Sports, music rights holders main High Court claimants

March 14, 2018

By Colin Mann

The English High Court continues to be dominated by sports and music copyright cases, with all three of the most frequent claimants in 2017 being sport and music bodies, according to RPC, the City-headquartered professional services firm.

RPC says that the top three most frequent claimants in the High Court last year were:

  • PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited), brought 88 cases to the High Court in 2017
  • The Football Association – 36 cases
  • Performing Right Society – 19 cases

RPC’s research follows the latest edition of its annual Copyright Guide, which covers developments in copyright law across 21 jurisdictions, including the UK, the US, and China. Legal experts from RPC’s international network of independent firms, TerraLex, provide country-specific breakdowns designed to help businesses further understand copyright law at home and abroad.

Paul Joseph, Partner and Editor of RPC’s Copyright Guide, says: “Protecting copyright continues to be a top priority for those holding the rights to music and football. As the value of football broadcast rights has ballooned over the last two decades, so has the importance to rights holders of protecting their intellectual property.”

Sky and BT are the other two of the Top 10 most frequent claimants in the High Court that are sports rights holders, with 12 and 11 claims in the High Court respectively.

RPC says that the clampdown by football and music rights holders includes cases being brought against pub and restaurant companies and individuals, who sometimes do not pay a full licence fee or are using illegal streaming services.

RPC adds that the iInternet has upended the music industry’s business model, making it more essential for the industry to pursue any possible source of revenue from businesses using their material.

As a result, litigating against those not paying in full for copyrighted material has become an increasingly popular option for the music industry and its artists to maximise revenues.

Ciara Cullen, Partner at RPC, adds: “As well as to capture lost revenue, rights holders will hope their presence in the High Court sends a strong message to deter future illegal streamers.”

Five of the 10 most frequent claimants in the High Court last year were companies in the football and music industry – claimants and the number of claims in the High Court, 2017

Claimant Claims
Phonographic Performance Limited 88
The Football Association Premier League Limited 36
Performing Right Society limited 19
National Crime Agency 18
Gopee and another 14
Sky PLC and others 12
British Telecommunications PLC 11
Aviva Insurance Limited 9
EasyGroup Limited 9
Dr Sorsy Sawaneh Wallace 8


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