Karen Murphy wins European case against Premier League

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union European court

Murphy: European Court ruled in favour of licensee
Murphy: European Court ruled in favour of licensee
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled against the Premier League stating that pubs can show football matches via foreign (European) television decoders.

The ECJ ruled today that restricting the sale of European foreign satellite decoder cards is “contrary to the freedom to provide services”.

The UK Court of Appeal had asked the court to clarify in the case of Portsmouth pub licensee Karen Murphy, who had been prosecuted for screening games via a Greek decoder card, and foreign satellite suppliers.

In the judgement, published today, the ECJ ruled 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”.

It added: “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 renumeration for the holders of the rights concerned.”

The ruling also claimed that that a “system of exclusive licences is also contrary to European Union competition law if the licence agreements prohibit the supply of decoder cards to television viewers who wish to watch the broadcasts outside the member state for which the licence is granted.”

The court also ruled that only part of football broadcasts are copyrighted — such as the credits and the theme tune of the Premier League.

Legal expert Peter Coulson said that the European Court had deemed that football was not an art and therefore not subject to copyright rules.

“This is a pretty comprehensive judgement in favour of Karen Murphy,” he said. “The ruling will now come back to the Court of Appeal to decide how it will be implemented in UK law.

“Until that happens, nothing has changed but invariably people will jump the gun. I think it will be very difficult indeed for Media Protection Services to prosecute anyone for using an EC foreign decoder card.”

The judgement is only in relation to cards from within the European Community and excludes any Albanian cards.

The Premier League and Sky have yet to issue a statement on the judgement.

The European Court of Justice (officially the Court of Justice), is the highest court in the European Union in matters of European Union law. As a part of the Court of Justice of the European Union institution it is tasked with interpreting EU law and ensuring its equal application across all EU member states.

Related topics Licensing law Sport

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