Tuesday 16 July 2013

Premier League gains blocking order on illegal streams

High Court judgment forces six main UK-based ISPs to block First Row Sports

Premier League has successfully called for the blocking of First Row Sports

The Premier League today secured a judgment in the High Court requiring the six main UK-based Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to one of the biggest illegal live football-streaming sites in the UK.

The High Court ruled that First Row Sports was acting jointly with third party streaming services to communicate to the public live footage of Premier League matches in breach of the Premier League’s copyright.

Section 97A of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 has been used previously by the music and film industries to secure protection from illegal streaming sites, such as Pirate Bay, but this is the first time that a sporting body has sought an order blocking a site that infringes its copyright.

It is also the first time that an order has been granted against a website that facilitates access to other illegal streaming sites.

A Premier League spokesman said: “We are extremely pleased that the order blocking this website has been granted and we will be enforcing it, in conjunction with the ISPs, ahead of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season.

“It is absolutely imperative that content industries are afforded protection under the law if they are to continue investing in the sort of quality talent and facilities that has made them successful and of interest in the first place.

“The judgment recognises the parasitic nature of the enterprise; this was an out and out commercial operation with estimated revenues of up to £10 million a year, whilst giving nothing back to the sport. 

“The content industries are playing an increasingly significant role in the UK economy, so it is pleasing to see that the courts recognise this and prevent continued abuses of copyright.”

Mr Justice Arnold also made clear that any publicans using First Row Sports to screen Premier League matches in their premises are communicating copyright works to the public, which would put them in breach of Section 20 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

A Premier League spokesman added: “Publicans should know that the only broadcasters entitled to show live Premier League matches in the UK as of the coming season are BSkyB and BT Vision.

“Mr Justice Arnold’s comments serve to add further clarity to this point.

“The Premier League will be significantly upping its enforcement activity in this area in the coming months, so any publican who is being offered a service that is not either BSkyB or BT Vision should be aware that these are illegal and they open themselves up to the possibility of prosecution.”

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Key Points

  • Premier League secures High Court judgment requiring six main UK-based Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to one of the biggest illegal live football-streaming sites in the UK
  • This is the first time that a sporting body has sought an order blocking a site that infringes its copyright
  • Also the first time that an order has been granted against a website that facilitates access to other illegal streaming sites