Posted: Friday, 4 February 2011 @ 13:13
Karen Murphy, the landlady of a small pub in Portsmouth, yesterday scored a spectacular goal against the Premier League and Sky in the Euopean Court of Justice.
This goes back a few years to when she was convicted and fined a substantial sum for using a Greek satellite receiver for showing Premier League football in her pub. Of course, using the Greek receiver was considerably cheaper than a Sky contract in the UK. Karen has taken it all the way to the European Court. Good on her! And yesterday the Advocate General declared that the Premier League could not licence rights to screen it's matches on a country by country basis. It could not ring fence each European Community country, thereby preventing access to another country's broadcast services.
This ruling has huge implications for the Premier League and Sky. But don't think that this is all over. The match is still on, because the PL and Sky will naturally fight back. As the UK accounts for probably 3/4 of their income, they will not wish to see that income stream seriously diminished. What this will mean in time is that there will be a harmonisation of licences throughout the EC, with undoubtedly an increase in fees or at least an increase for other EC states not paying premium prices like the UK. So the victory may be short lived, and the losers may well be the poorer states like Greece who will have to pay more. So in the end I suspect that Sky and the Premier League will win the match.
Of course this has nothing to do with using a Sky domestic card to screen events in a business premises. If you give in to this temptation not only are they committing a criminal offence but you could risk losing your business. Fines are often in the region of £7-8000, and there is also a risk that any Personal Licence holder prosecuted will have their Licence revoked by the sentencing magistrates.
FACTS (Federation Against Copyright Theft) are rigorously prosecuting under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act with a maximum fine of £5000 for each offence. FACTS have brought over 900 prosecutions. The going rate of fines is approximately £1500 per offence and costs of at least £2000 are likely to be imposed. In one case an operator was ordered to pay over £20000 in fines and costs. In today’s credit crunch market few operators can afford to suffer such a fate. If you want to show Sky you must obtain a Non-Domestic Viewing Agreement.
Licensing Law Specialist
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