European court rules that pubs can show live footy using foreign decoders

4 October 2011


The Premier League and Sky have been dealt a heavy blow over the airing of coverage of their soccerball games in public places like pubs. Mostly pubs in fact. A pub landlady from Portsmouth has won the latest battle in her war against the broadcaster and the massive money-generating league over using foreign TV decoders on British soil. Helpfully, it’ll almost certainly upset Rupert Murdoch as well.

After being fined for using a Greek decoder to show live Premier League matches in her pub, Karen Murphy was fined £8,000, but took her case to the European Court of Justice. They’ve backed her and said that national legislation that blocks the use of foreign decoders could not “be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums”

The ruling will now go back to the High Court, and could well lead to the Premier League and Sky having to rework how they sell their rights. Basically, in management-speak, the ball is up in the air and no one knows what colour or shape it’ll be when it lands again.

It also means that the plethora of pubs that brazenly show live matches at 3pm on a Saturday (which is supposed to be strictly prohibited) will continue to do so until the Premier League get their act together.

One interesting loophole is that the ECJ has stated that while live matches are not protected by copyright, any surrounding media, such as any opening video sequence, the hideous Premier League ‘anthem’, pre-recorded films showing highlights of recent Premier League matches and various graphics, were "works" protected by copyright. To use any of these parts of a broadcast, a pub would need the permission of the Premier League.

Like Shaun Wright-Phillips, this one is going to run and run…



  • CapitalistBitchBoy
    Why do the big corporations happily lap up cheap foreign labour when they can, but the second we source the services more cheaply from abroad instead of using theirs they get upset. Heres an idea; Sky stop using crap off-shore call centres (only because they are cheap) and then they can get upset when we decide to use cheaper foreign services instead of theirs. Its only a global economy when it suits the big boys.
  • Karl M.
    So how much does one of these Greek decoders and a subscription cost?! Can't afford the monthly Sky subscription but if the Greek decoder is now legal (or at least, not illegal) then it might be an option. Plus it will be doing our bit to help Greece during it's time of crisis - everyone's a winner!
  • James D.
    Fantastic, the content key holders have had their stranglehold on content for far too long. Hopefully this ruling will also allow video streaming companies to serve the whole of europe rather than having to negotiate a new licence for each country they sell to.
  • TimB
    I always have a bad feeling when 'the little guy' wins in a case like this. All too often, it ends with the big guys changing their rules/pricing to accommodate their new obligations rather than 'making an example' of a small number of offenders, letting the rest of us watch the match in peace.
  • Dick
    Won't this mean that the PL stop selling the rights to individual countries / broadcasters, and just sell the European rights as a whole (probably to Sky)?
  • PlatinumPlatypus
    Sky aren't even allowed to buy exclusive rights for the UK, let alone Europe. There's no way around the Premier League losing hundreds of millions out of this.
  • Manc
    Surely they'll just have a ticker tape that runs the length of the screen with the Premier League logo on it? Also, don't the club strips already have the Prem logo on the arm? That'll surely be enough for Sky and the Preier League to argue their IP is being infringed.
  • Wonky H.
    I once watched a football match in the Premier League, but you're not as paranoid as me so you'll never know that in 1957 I was the Grand Fox Wizard.
  • Brad
    I think people are getting a little confused here, she wasn't actually doing anything illegal (Showing streams off the internet she had no permission to show for example) What she did was instead of paying Sky £500* odd a month to show football, She contacted the Greek broadcaster who had purchased the rights for the football, then paid for the equipment to receive the signal and paid something along the line of £150* a month subscription which was perfectly legal. In other words the courts say Sky can do one. *Not true prices just a guess but you get the idea.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment