Legal UK TV in Spain – Is watching UK TV in Spain legal?

A question that has confused expats living in Spain for several years.
And the answer is yes and no.
It all depends which UK TV channels, and how you watch them.
There are two methods that the broadcasters use to try and limit reception of their channels outside their intended countries. Firstly they can place their channels on a satellite whose signals is weak – like BBC and ITV channels. Secondly they can encrypt their channels and only make them available to view via a viewing card that can only be issued in the intended country – like Sky TV channels.
Using a viewing card outside the intended country will be against the terms and conditions of the use of that viewing card. Should the broadcaster find out that the card is being used outside the intended country then it will be deactivated.
If reception of other countries free to air television channels was illegal outside the intended country, then this caused huge problems. For example, satellite receivers used by Digital+, Spains satellite television service, allow s the reception of any free to air satellite channels on the Astra 1 satellite, which included many free channels from German, France and the UK. Are Digital+, by allowing their receivers to view non Spanish channels, operating illegally? Are shops selling free to air receivers that can scan and receive free to air channels from all over the world operating illegally?


Legal UK TV in Spain – Is watching free to air UK TV channels like BBC ITV in Spain legal?

Firstly, the free to air UK TV channels like BBC ITV C4 and Fives.
It is not illegal to watch these channels via satellite direct from the broadcasters.
The main UK television channels, such as BBC and ITV are transmitted from the satellites “in the clear” with no encryption so you can view them without a Sky viewing card! These types of channels are called “Free to Air” channels.
As the channels are not encrypted, do not require a Sky viewing card, and so can be viewed by anyone in Spain (and the EU) with the correct sized satellite dish. The broadcasters may not like this, but there is little they can do to stop you from receiving these free satellite signals.
Under EU Law you can legally watch any free to air transmission direct from the broadcasters from any country in and EU country.
If you live in Spain, you do not even have to pay the UK TV licence, as that only applied for households and premises in the UK. It is not a charge to watch BBC< although money from the licence fee does go to fund the BBC. It is essentially a TAX on any TV reception equipment capable of receiving live TV (although this is soon to be changed to also include delayed TV via the catch up services like BBC Iplayer, ITV Player and All4.)
If you receive your free to air UK TV channels from a third party, like an internet TV service such as XBMC / Kodi Android boxes, a cable TV or rebroadcast system, then you yourself are not doing anything illegal. But the internet TV service, a cable TV or rebroadcast system operators are redistributing those channels probably without the permission of the broadcasters, which is required under Spain’s, UK, EU and International copyright law. It is certainly illegal to charge clients for free to air channels that you have no permission to retransmit or distribute.


Legal UK TV in Spain – Is watching Sky TV subscription channels in Spain legal?

Again the answer to this is again yes and no.
By the manner in which TV programmes are sold to broadcasters around the world, the UK broadcasters will buy the programme rights for the UK and UK only.
This means that, in order to comply with those broadcast rights contracts, Sky subscription cards can only be issued to UK addresses.
Under the terms and conditions of the Sky card contract, those card must not be used outside the UK. If Sky know that viewing card is outside the UK they can and will terminate the contract and your Sky card will be deactivated.
However, under EU law it is NOT illegal to use a viewing card from one EU country in another EU country, in a private domestic property.
But under EU law it is illegal to use a viewing card from one EU country in another EU country, in a public or commercial property, as this will be in breach of copyright laws.
These rules were confirmed in a recently court case which went to the European Court of Justice, and involved a pub landlady and the Premier League, where the pub landylady was allegedly using a viewing card from another EU county to watch Premier League football matches in her pub. The case revolved around what parts of the broadcast were subjected to copyright infringements as a result of the matches being shown in a public place.


Legal UK TV in Spain – Is cardsharing legal in Spain?

Watching PAY tv without the correct subscription to the relevant broadcaster is illegal.


Legal UK TV in Spain – Is Android / Kodi / XBMC / Brit TV Boxes legal in Spain?

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has confirmed that watching pirated video streams online does not break any copyright laws. The CJEU confirmed that the existing EU copyright provide exemptions for temporary copies for viewing and streaming online. Viewing or streaming, the court says, is different to making a copy and would be exempt from copyright laws, but the copies “must be temporary, that they must be transient or incidental in nature and that they must constitute an integral and essential part of a technological process.”. It’s worth noting that this ruling does not exempt operators of these streaming services from legal responsibility, only the viewers and users of these services.


For the best legal UK TV in Spain…

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