Blocking injunctions – more good news for rights owners
The 2017 order granted by the High Court in the Football Association Premier League Ltd v British Telecommunications plc[i] and the subsequent extension of this order ("the FA Case") was a major victory for owners of copyright in broadcasts.
The resulting injunction, requiring the major UK internet service providers to block access to streaming servers that illegally deliver live football streams, has been heralded as incredibly successful in the fight against piracy.
The High Court has again been asked to consider this issue, this time by UEFA, the administrative body for association football in Europe.
UEFA owns the copyright in television broadcasts of all matches in the UEFA competitions and all associated works within those broadcasts (such as replays). These rights are incredibly valuable; BT pays around £360 million per season for them.
This application (which was substantially similar to the application in the FA Case) was supported by all the defendants save for Talktalk (who neither supported nor opposed it). However the court still needed to consider whether it was justified because the order would affect third parties – and orders of this type need to be appropriate and proportionate.
For the same reasons as the FA Case (discussed here), the judge found that the order was appropriate and proportionate. The judge also added 3 further points:
- Further evidence has arisen that highlights the problem of illicit streaming – for example the report Cracking Down on Digital Piracy;
- Previous decisions (such as the FA Case) have proved very successful in blocking these problem servers and there has been no evidence of 'overblocking' (i.e. impeding otherwise legitimate business); and
- The order that UEFA have asked for contains the same criteria as the order the FA Case, but with an additional safe guard against overblocking.
This is another piece of good news for owners of broadcast copyright. Whilst the fight against piracy is far from over, it is being tackled and the courts are willing to place the burden of fighting it on those who are most equipped to do so.
Whilst the order itself is confidential and the ISPs agreed to (or did not oppose) its terms, one thing that is still unclear is who will bear the cost of implementing it.
As ISP might be minded to oppose this type of application if they felt it would impose onerous costs on them. In the case of Cartier v BskyB[ii] (where a blocking injunction was granted in respect of trade mark infringement as opposed to copyright infringement), the Court of Appeal took the view that "the rightholders should pay the costs of an unopposed application ... [and] the ISPs should generally bear the costs of implementation as part of the costs of carrying on business in this sector". Though there was a dissenting judgment from Briggs LJ who considered that the rightholder should bear the entire cost of the application and the implementation of the order.
This Cartier decision on costs is being appealed to the Supreme Court (due to be heard on the 30 Jan 2018) and interested parties will be keenly awaiting the outcome...
[i]  EWHC 1877 (Ch) and  EWHC 480 (Ch)
[ii]  EWCA Civ 658
This article was written by Peter Byrd.
For more information, please contact Peter on +44 (0)20 7427 6754 or at email@example.com
Pfizer, Ted Danson and the Olympic Vaccine Solution
Darren Bailey quoted extensively on the legalities of the European Super League proposals
Darren considers the legal questions that exist around the introduction of a European Super League.
Darren Bailey quoted by the Financial Times on the regulation of the sports betting industry
As the UK moves to a more regulated model, the US is throwing open the doors on the regulation of the sports betting industry.
COVID-19 Certification: Why do the Sport and Retail sectors disagree?
Darren Bailey quoted by SportsPro on the UK government’s ongoing review of gambling sponsorship
A new code of conduct for betting firms rather than an outright ban on sports sponsorship is the likely way forward.
Transfer of Power: Brexit and the Football Transfer Market
Nowhere in football will the effect of Brexit more keenly be felt than in the transfer market.
The EPL's Fantasy Nightmare
Jonathan McDonald and Rahim Hirji write for LawInSport on the relationship between data protection and referee reports in English football
Is data in reports submitted by referees to the Football Association subject to the General Data Protection Regulation?
Nick White writes for City AM on the publication of the first Olympic 'playbook'
How does Tokyo plan to stage a safe Olympics this year - and why cancellation remains the last resort.
Nic Couchman quoted by Host City on private investment in sport
Sports were once seen as risky ventures that wouldn’t get past an investment committee – this has changed.
Nick White writes for Host City on the debate surrounding whether the Olympics will go ahead this summer
It is perhaps the biggest question in sport right now: will the Olympics go ahead this summer?
Olympics 2021: Countdown or Count Out?
Nick White appears on Law In Sport's webinar on the legal rights to player data
Jody MacDonald quoted in Sport Business on the firm's role advising Veloce on the creation of Quadrant
Sports Self-Regulation on Thin Ice
Dan McDonagh analyses the judgement upholding banning athletes who participate in non-sanctioned events as anti-competitive.
New rules permit up to 4,000 to watch spectator sports
£300million support package announced for English sports – but some miss out
Charles Russell Speechlys acts for Veloce Esports on its collaboration with Lando Norris in establishing the Quadrant Esports Team.
Veloce Esports has become one of the leading esports organisations in the UK.
Nic Couchman and Roger Elford quoted by Sport Business on building a bridge to a sustainable future for the English Football League
Lower League Football, COVID-19 and Beyond: The Bridge to a Sustainable Future
Our team propose a series of measures to help football recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, to build a bridge to a sustainable future.