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MEPs urge live sport anti-piracy protection

April 16, 2021

By Colin Mann

The unique live character of sport events requires special protection to allow for real time take downs, according to the European Parliament’s MEPs.

In a draft report adopted with 18 votes in favour and six against, the Legal Affairs committee sets out recommendations to address the illegal transmission of sport events and the protection of intellectual property rights of their organisers.

The report highlights the need improve the existing framework on enforcement of intellectual property rights for live sport events to reflect the specific nature of live broadcasts, as the exploitation of broadcast rights is an important source of organisers’ income. MEPs recall that sport events as such are not subject to copyright protection and that EU law does not provide for a specific right for sport event organisers.

MEPs call for further harmonisation of existing rules on notice and take down procedures in the context of the Digital Services Act. Current legislation needs to be further clarified and concrete measures adopted to reflect the short-time value of live sport events and to allow for real-time take down of illegal live sport broadcasts.

Online intermediaries would have to remove or disable illegal broadcasts “immediately, or as fast as possible and in any event no later than within 30 minutes of the receipt of the notification from right holders or a certified trusted flagger”, states the draft report.

MEPs underline that legal sport content offers should also be better promoted and made easier to find online for consumers.

The report highlights those measures should only target illegal content so as not lead to arbitrary or excessive blocking of legal content. They should be proportionate, in particular for small businesses, SMEs and start-ups and allow for access to judicial remedies, including protection of fundamental rights and personal data.

“Online piracy of live sport events is a major challenge faced by sport events’ organisers,” stated committee rapporteur Angel Dzhambazki (European Conservatives and Reformists, Bulgaria). “It is important to enable an immediate and workable tool for the enforcement of rights for live sport events, including the possibility of real-time blocking of access to or removal of unauthorised online live sport content. The liability for illegal broadcasting of sports events rests with the providers of streams and platforms and not with fans and consumers, who often unintentionally come across illegal online content.”

The aim is to tackle those thousands and thousands of illegal broadcasters who get the signal from different sport events across Europe and broadcast it illegally, according to Adrián Vázquez Lázara (Renew, Spain), the chair of the Legal Affairs committee, who notes that as sports clubs can’t currently sell tickets, it is necessary to protect the only income they have left, which is the TV rights.

All MEPs will vote on the report during the May plenary session.

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