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FIFA settles cruise ship copyright dispute

June 9, 2021

By Colin Mann

A legal dispute between football’s governing body FIFA and TUI Cruises that had been pending at the Copyright Dispute Chamber of Hamburg District Court since July 1st 2020 has been resolved by way of a settlement between the parties, who have submitted their settlement agreement to be ratified and published by the court.

FIFA had filed a lawsuit against TUI Cruises as a result of the latter having received and broadcast live transmissions by German broadcasters ARD and ZDF of matches from the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 on its cruise ships in international waters. TUI Cruises had not obtained a licence from FIFA’s authorised sales agency permitting said reception and broadcast.

The court indicated in the oral proceedings on April 15th 2021 that TUI Cruises was obliged to respect FIFA’s copyright in the audiovisual content and recordings of the so called ‘basic feed’ when it transmitted broadcasts of football matches derived from free-to-air programmes on board its ships. In light of the court’s guidance, the legal issues in dispute between FIFA and TUI Cruises have been resolved.

Under the agreed settlement, TUI Cruises recognises FIFA’s copyright in the basic feed, which is produced by FIFA and licensed to international TV broadcasters. TUI Cruises further undertakes to FIFA that it will refrain from using the FIFA basic feed (even if received from ARD or ZDF) on its ships. This includes by means of the on-board TV system available in the cabins or in the catering and entertainment areas, unless TUI Cruises has obtained a suitable licence from FIFA or its official licensing partner for the in-ship rights.

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