English Premier League is an English football club’s competition where 20 clubs competes to win the title. The League consists of 19 clubs from England and one club from Wales. It is today 25 years old and was founded on the 20th of February 1991. Total of 49 clubs has competed in this league till 2017. Interested parties can enjoy watching the matches through different channels, old days people used to attend the games at the assigned football stadium and by TV channels. Nowadays, besides the mentioned methodologies people can follow up the different compensations through Internet channels and different websites (History of the English Premier League).
This brief will shed light on this controversial case about the licenses for the retransmission of football matches. Where Karen Murphy bought a TV signal decoder card from a Greek TV broadcaster it cost her just £800 a year and used it to display the English Premier League at the pub that she owned at England instead of buying an annual subscription fee of £ 7,000 to access the Premier League feed, she saves around £350 monthly while she uses cheap decoder (Hill & Hult, 2017). The initial judgment in a court support the right of the Premier League, Karen Murphy paid about £ 8,000 in fines and costs to use a low-cost decoder at her Portsmouth pub. After that, she took her case to the European Court of Justice and she found partly in its favor and in the Supreme Court of London. On the other hand, the Premier League said it still has the right to Stop use unauthorized of their copyright. Murphy has spent from 2005 until 2011 defends her case for showing the football at her pub without a Sky subscription(Pub landlady Karen Murphy wins TV football court case, 2012)
English Premier League’s Broadcasting Rights
The English Premier League established on the 2nd of February 1992 in England (Premier League, 2015). The Premier League defined as the official English League for the male’s football teams and considered as the top European primary football organization. The English Premier League have a total of twenty member clubs controlled by promotion and relegation system which is authorized by the Football League (Premier League, 2015). In Europe generally and in UK in specific, the rights of broadcasting the games is expensive and charge with different prices based on the local demand. As a result of the high and different prices for having the broadcasting rights for the games, two channels only have the broadcasting rights to screen the games. British Sky Broadcasting Group and ESPN are the channels, which have the broadcasting rights, contract in Europe (Hill & Hult, 7017).
Local demand controls the differences on the prices on the English Primer League’s broadcasting rights within the European different markets. The annual fee is around £7,000 for the subscription, which cost to pay monthly charge of almost £600 (Hill & Hult, 7017). The charges are too expensive and cause the league to become exclusive by two channels only and within UK. Charging different prices within one country cause lots of legal issue that reach legally to the high level in the courts.
European Court Ruling against the EPL
In 2005, the English Premier League filed a case in the British court against a pub owner named Karen Murphy accusing her of violating the copyright law (White, 2011). Murphy was taken to court for showing the live matches in her pub by using a Greek decoder, which only cost her £800 a year, instead of subscribing to one of the local exclusive broadcasters which would have cost her £7000 a year(Hill & Hult, 2017). The British court ruled in favor of the Premier League by convicting Murphy and issuing a fine of £8000 against her. The ruling granted the broadcasters territorial exclusivity of their product, which is in broadcasting live matches(Keslo, 2011). The British pub landlady appealed the ruling arguing that the court ruling and Premier League were violating the European Union Law(Hill & Hult, 2017).
What the Premier League was aiming to accomplish with this whole issue, starting by taking Murphy to court, is to be granted territorial exclusivity of their live matches and to ban the public from finding cheaper broadcast substitutes that came from outside the UK(Hill & Hult, 2017). The English Premier League specifically states in their contracts with the non-British broadcasters to guarantee that their subscribers could only view their matches within their own territory (Hogan Lovells, 2011). What Murphy did is that she bought subscription decoding card that was provided by Nova, a licensed Greek broadcaster which broadcasted the British games to their subscribers in Greece. When the British court ruled against Ms. Murphy, it did not look at the case from the right point of view. What Murphy did wasn’t stealing, in fact, what she did and many others did is use a ‘foreign decoding device’; they did not pirate the games using a ‘pirate decoder card’ (European Comission, 2012). That was Murphy’s argument and that is how the case escalated, when she took the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
According to a summary published by the European Commission, the Premier League argued in the EU’s highest court, that it wants to ban foreign decoding cards to protect its intellectual property rights and to encouraging people to attend the football matches live at the stadiums(European Comission, 2012). Both reasoning did not convince the ECJ. The court pointed out that sport events do not result from an intellectual creation, therefore, the Premier League couldn’t claim copyright to the matches (European Comission, 2012). Another argument is that any business, in this case the League, could not restrict the movement of their services within the European Union (European Comission, 2012) and that is according to the union’s Single Market Act (Hill & Hult, 2017).
However, even though the European Court hasn’t granted the Premier League a ruling to their favor in terms of protecting their live matches by copyright, it has on the other hand pointed out that the League still holds the intellectual property of other media surrounding the sports events, such as the use of the League’s logo, “the opening video anthem, pre-recorded video sequence highlighting the parts of the matches (Pub Landlady Wins TV Court Case, 2012)”. So for anyone who wants to use these extra parts of the broadcast, such as a pub, they will need to have permission from the Premier League itself (Keslo, 2011).
The Impact of the ECJ Ruling
For over six years MS Murphy is fighting to win the case. If the ruling holds as per the court’s advocate general, in this case, the one who will benefit is Murphy in the first place, moreover; people who are paying € 700 monthly to their subscription of Sky TV to watch the England Premier League. Also, every British business that wants to broadcast it on their TV. The bars and coffee shops owners can even play it in their places to attract people during match’s days. ("Pub landlady wins TV court case," 2017). Moreover, as per European Courts of Justice (ECJ), which states that it is not illegal for the English premier league fans in the UK to buy the decoder card from any European broadcasters and enjoy watching the league with a big difference in price. It will obviously lead to a major fall in the number of Sky Sports and ESPN subscribers. League freaks will be able to watch the league from any European broadcaster. The English League will have to go and monopolies its matches live shows overseas not at one of the EU countries (Harris, 2017). For example, in the Middle East part, the only authorized broadcaster is bein sports TV to show not only English league but also the Italian league and European league. The English league also will have less audience in the match’s days, as they can legally watch it live on TV by using decoder cards. As an impact, the tickets price would decrease since the fans could watch the match from home at a lesser cost. Will the ruling change if the Brexit occur? As per Theresa insist that after the Brexit the UK will not follow any of ECJ rules, they will have their court of justice. Apparently, the chance of changing the rule will be impossible after Brexit or even before. ("European Court could be given role in Britain after Brexit | Metro News," 2017).
The Best Strategy For English Premier League
The court of the EU has ruled against EPL's claim of the copy right for live matches. The fact behind it is that only pre-recorded films that shows highlights of latest Premier League matches, Premier League anthem, opening video sequence and various graphics that could be considered as ‘works’ and enjoy copyright. In contrast, live matches themselves are not works that would enjoy the same protection(Summaries of important judgments, 2012). Therefore, a strategy of implementing copyright on the pre-recorded films that shows highlights of latest Premier League matches, Premier League anthem, opening video sequence and various graphics would add great value to the EPL. Moreover, the right holders will be directed towards branding their content for all shows that they broadcast. The same will take place by displaying the EPL logo in the content(Gibson, 2011). Thus making profit via charging the businesses that display the same content that carries the logo of the EPL without any permission of the Premier League. In addition, charging prohibitions on practices to change the content such as the English language to any other language, to make the matches more appealing to viewers outside the assigned territory(Hogan Lovells, 2011). Moreover, the EPL could implement a new distribution model that licensees are spread over in the EU and not limited within a territory, so that charging royalty based on the reference of the actual location where the content accessed from(Hogan Lovells, 2011).
I need a conclusion for this assignment. the answer of the questionwhether the EPL’s fate is going to change if the UK exits the EU or not should be included in the conclusion