Skip to content

Arsenal Are Still Having a Woeful Season

But as the IPKat reports, quoting a press release announcing a new judgment from the European Court of Justice,

A system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches which grants broadcasters territorial exclusivity on a Member State basis and which prohibits television viewers from watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other Member States is contrary to EU law.

[Press release here]

This is so, in part, because no proprietary rights attach to the games themselves:

So far as concerns the possibility of justifying that restriction in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights, the Court observes that the FAPL cannot claim copyright in the Premier League matches themselves, as those sporting events cannot be considered to be an author’s own intellectual creation and, therefore, to be ‘works’ for the purposes of copyright in the European Union.

Also, even if national law were to confer comparable protection upon sporting events – which would, in principle, be compatible with EU law – a prohibition on using foreign decoder cards would go beyond what is necessary to ensure appropriate remuneration for the holders of the rights concerned.

Because the underlying issue has to do with EU competition law and the free movement of services among member States, there is little here that reads on American law.

Still, it is noteworthy that a leading court appears to have affirmed what supporters and critics have long intuited, though from different premises: the absence of intellectual creativity in professional football.