Satellite ruling imminent

By Tony Halstead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Foreign satellite football Crime Criminal law

More than 60 hosts in Bolton have been urged to stick to their guns until the legal position regarding the screening of foreign satellite football is...

More than 60 hosts in Bolton have been urged to stick to their guns until the legal position regarding the screening of foreign satellite football is clarified by the courts.

It comes as the MA learns that the legal test case of Portsmouth host Karen Murphy, whose appeal against a conviction for showing foreign satellite football, is due at the High Court by the end of the year.

Solicitors from London law firm Orchard Brayton Graham told a meeting of the Licensees Against Media Protection Services (Lamps) that they believe showing games did not breach copyright law. This claim is strongly denied by MA legal editor Peter Coulson.

Lawyer Nicholas Chadwick Healey said: "I have no doubt than when cases come before a higher court the decision will be that this is not a criminal act. Showing a broadcast via Nova or other foreign channels through a decoder box, and having paid the relevant fee to the broadcaster is not a criminal offence."

Coulson said: "On the question of copyright, all cases have gone against the licensee. The reason that [Greater Manchester licensee] Brian Gannon was let off was on a separate point."

Healey said the current position regarding raids on pubs was a shambles as police had little idea about the law.

It was also revealed at the meeting that Lamps has opened talks with an insurance broker about taking out cover if hosts are prosecuted for showing foreign satellite football. Hosts said they feared the "knock on the door" from inspectors looking to catch pubs screening foreign satellite football.

police accused of mis-reading law on Foreign soccer screenings

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been accused of mis-reading the law on screening football via foreign satellite systems by saying that doing so is "not a criminal offence".

GMP officers entered pubs in Bolton and seized equipment in September as part of investigations into alleged copyright breaches.

But the force said, in response to questions from the European Satellite TV Association (Esta), that showing games via these units is "not a criminal offence". Esta called the police raids a "scandalous abuse of the criminal law and police powers".

In a statement, Bolton inspector Phil Spurgeon said: "While we acknowledge that licensees were not committing a criminal offence by screening these games, they were still in breach of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act.

"In order for broadcasting companies to seize unauthorised equipment it is necessary that they obtain a police warrant."

MA legal editor Peter Coulson said: "From my point of view the information that Esta is relying on is inaccurate.It's quite ridiculous if they are trying to claim that illegal showing of satellite football isn't a criminal offence.

"That's wrong in law because they are in breach of an act of Parliament for which penalties are given." Coulson has written to GMP to express his concerns.

Related topics Legislation

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