Legal experts have repeated warnings to publicans that they should not take the victory of pub landlady Karen Murphy in her High Court battle against the English Premier League as a licence to start using foreign decoder cards to screen football matches.
The High Court ruled earlier today that Karen Murphy's conviction in 2006 for breaching copyright law for screening Premier League matches via a Greek decoder should no longer stand.
But Andrew Nixon, sports group associate for law firm Thomas Eggar, warned: "Today's ruling must not be taken as a carte blanche for publicans to show Premier League matches; far from it, in fact. It will be recalled that the European Court of Justice (who reviewed the Murphy and QC Leisure cases together) also ruled that ‘additionals', such as opening video sequences, the Premier League music, certain graphics and pre-recorded highlights did fall within a category protected by copyright. That in itself creates a major problem for publicans who wish to take advantage of their entitlement to use foreign decoders, in that they would need the permission of the Premier League to use these copyright protected works.
"Although the High Court (when considering the QC Leisure case) refused to grant a blanket declaration on the scope of the copyright infringement and refused to grant the Premier League an injunction to prevent future copyright infringement, the Premier League can still use its copyright in the parts of the broadcast that contain works (such as the ‘additionals' referred to above) to bring individual actions against publicans. Whilst that will not be especially easy, as to get an injunction against individuals the Premier League must be able to precisely identify the works that were being infringed, the Premier League has developed its content further to uphold its ownership of the material.
"It is also unsurprising that, in order to lay down a marker and serve as a warning to others, the Premier League appears determined to take early steps to enforce against individuals it can identify as infringing those rights."
By Neil Gerrard
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