Supernova dazzles Sky

Posted: 10th October 2011

sky dishA pub landlady, who has fought all the way to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for the right to use Nova, a Greek satellite TV company, to show Premier League matches at her pub in Portsmouth, has won a significant victory in her battle against Sky.

She fought the case after being fined £8,000 for showing matches transmitted via Nova rather than Sky, the authorised distributor for the Premier League matches shown. Her appeal against the ruling led to the UK courts referring questions to the ECJ.
The press release from the Court of Justice says that it “ holds that national legislation which prohibits the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services and cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadia".
"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. “
The case has now been referred back to the High Court in London for a decision. The ECJ’s ruling has been reported as having a substantial effect, but the benefits may be short-lived and could, in the medium-term, lead to a change in the way Sky Sports licences its products and prices them in different markets.