Pubs warned about TV football coverage by sports lawyer

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Premier league, Law, Manchester united f.c.

Andrew Nixon, a sports lawyer for Thomas Eggar LLP, has warned publicans not to misread the victory of landlady Karen Murphy as legal acceptance to show Premier League matches using a decoder
Andrew Nixon, a sports lawyer for Thomas Eggar LLP, has warned publicans not to misread the victory of landlady Karen Murphy as legal acceptance to show Premier League matches using a decoder
Publicans have been warned by a leading sports lawyer not to misread the victory of Portsmouth landlady Karen Murphy in the High Court as an acceptance of the legality of showing Premier League matches without a valid UK subscription service.

Andrew Nixon, sports group associate for Thomas Eggar LLP, warned pub owners that the issue around the English FA Premier League copyright had not changed as a result of Murphy's victory last week, which saw her 2006 conviction for showing matches using a Greek satellite decoder overturned.

“Today’s ruling must not be taken as a carte blanche for publicans to show Premier League matches; far from it, in fact. It will be recalled that the European Court of Justice (who reviewed the Murphy and QC Leisure cases together) also ruled that 'additionals', such as opening video sequences, the Premier League music, certain graphics and pre-recorded highlights did fall within a category protected by copyright," he said.

Karen Murphy

Murphy, the landlady of the Red, White and Blue pub in Portsmouth, had her conviction quashed on 24 February​ when Lord Justice Burnton agreed with the ECJ that 'she was wrongly prosecuted'. In October last year the ECJ ruled largely in favour of Murphy and against the Premier League on grounds of a breach of freedom to provide services rules.

However a separate High Court ruling​ by Lord Justice Kitchin, which considered a case involving QC Leisure and others, ruled that copyright of the Premier League was breached by using decoders. At the time the Premier League vowed to continue legal action against any pubs continuing to use foreign satellites as opposed to paying for the rights from the broadcaster Sky.

Legal advice

Nixon's comments to pub owners considering their options after the legal developments is to remember that the Premier League was still able to bring actions against any publican who continued to break the rules.

The lawyer said although Lord Justice Kitchin didn't grant the Premier League an injunction to prevent future copyright infringement, the organisation could still use its copyright to bring legal proceedings.

"Whilst that will not be especially easy, as to get an injunction against individuals the Premier League must be able to precisely identify the works that were being infringed, the Premier League has developed its content further to uphold its ownership of the material," he said.

"It is also unsurprising that, in order to lay down a marker and serve as a warning to others, the Premier League appears determined to take early steps to enforce against individuals it can identify as infringing those rights,” he added.

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