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  1. #1
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    Default European court rules against sports fixture copyright claims

    In a landmark decision, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that sport fixture lists do not equal a copyright. The ruling is seen as a major victory for online sportsbooks and media organizations.

    The GPWA has a press release about the decision:

    (PRESS RELEASE) -- The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today delivered its ruling (case C-604/10) in a case referred from the Court of Appeal (England & Wales).

    The fixture lists, for each season of the leagues, set the dates and venues for every match to be played. Football Dataco et al, claimed that there was in the fixture lists a sui generis right and a copyright under the Database Directive and a copyright under UK law. It consequently initiated legal action against certain media and sports betting companies in the UK, including Yahoo! and Stan James, who had refused to pay fees for those alleged rights.

    Today’s decision by the CJEU is consistent with their previous ruling in (Fixtures Marketing C-46/02, C-338/02 and C-444/02; British Horseracing Board v. William Hill C-203/02) which held that football fixture lists and ‘runners and riders’ horseracing lists do not give rise to a sui generis database right.

    The ruling furthermore reaffirms that fixture lists do not give rise as such to a copyright. As such, the key points are:

    · The copyright protection provided for by the Database Directive concerns the ‘structure’ of the database, and not its ‘contents’. That protection does not extend to the data itself”.

    · “the notion of ‘intellectual creation’, which is a necessary condition in order to be eligible for copyright protection, refers to the sole criterion of originality”.

    · “significant labour and skill on the part of its author does not justify, as such, the protection of it by copyright if that labour and that skill do not express any originality”

    The CJEU also makes it clear that the Database Directive aims at completely harmonising copyright protection for databases across the EU and therefore precludes national rights other than those provided for by the Directive.

    Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, said: “We welcome the ruling of the CJEU in relation to the claims of Football Dataco and hope that this will, finally put an end to attempts by sporting organisations to extract significant funds from media and betting organisations using the threat of intellectual property infringement. It is disappointing that it has taken so long to reach this position of clarity; nevertheless we are grateful to the CJEU for providing such an unequivocal judgement. As we have said before, this will hopefully encourage professional sports to build on the current commercial relationships with the betting industry in the best interests of all concerned.”

    Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA added: “We welcome today’s ruling, which should put an end to copyright claims for sport fixture lists. The focus now should be on strengthening the commercial ties between the online betting industry and professional sports. The fact, though, is that sport is still missing out on commercial opportunities with the betting industry in countries like Germany, Portugal and Poland because of sponsorship and advertising restrictions. We encourage the European Commission to take actions against these countries in order to remove these regulatory barriers.”

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  3. #2
    playermagnet is offline Private Member
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    Default

    Any idea why they still send emails and ask for money for a license? We received an infringement notice some days ago...
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  4. #3
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    Maybe a scare tactic as some may just write a check...

    Plus they may have timed the mailings thinking they might have recieved a different decision.

    If the decision had actually been different, the mailing would have been WAY more effective and would have generated them a lot more revenue.

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  5. #4
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    This is a huge decision and will help many I know with websites who have believed it to be awkward putting up fixture lists. Data Co have lost out on this in a big way, all the e-mails they have spent time sending out on fixtures, what a waste of time that will now seem.

    They will however still contact sites who are showing images, whether cut, formatted, or with a slice of their own text in it.

  6. #5
    playermagnet is offline Private Member
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    We were contacted for fixtures and not images after the European's court decision. From searching online our understanding is that the case will return now to the English court, so maybe they're still sending emails until the English court decides. But we cannot find when this is expected to happen. We're also wondering if those who were paying for fixtures are still renewing their licenses...
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  7. #6
    PingPong is offline Public Member
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    Most copyright infringement notices are sent automatically. Robot crawls your page and if it finds relevant information - there is an email sent your way. When they see many ignored notices they may consider taking manual action.

    Anyway, what EU says means very little. They can still give you a hard time in UK court. I doubt they will take small site owners to court though, but you never know.

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  9. #7
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    If you think lawyers won't go after small website owners, just research the Righthaven lawsuits.

    Those guys actually approached copywrite owners, purchased the rights to the content, just so they could go after website owners.

    I would personally like to find the ip's of all these scummy robots since I have found most of them do NOT adhere to robots.txt so I would block them at the firewall and load balancer levels.

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  10. #8
    playermagnet is offline Private Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by PingPong View Post
    Anyway, what EU says means very little. They can still give you a hard time in UK court.
    Even if we're not a UK company, our web hosting is not in UK, our domain name is not co.uk and we block UK traffic from the pages with these fixtures?

  11. #9
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    If they win the copyright case, it has NOTHING to do with whether you block the pages to UK visitors or not, you would still be going against their copyright.

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  13. #10
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    Thank you for your answers. We don't want to take any risks, so we have complied with their request from their first email and now we'll wait for the case to return to English courts and in the meantime try to contact other webmasters who are in the same position to learn more.

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