Jan 312014

A pub landlord has to pay £65,000 in legal costs for breaching the Premier League’s copyright by showing football matches using a foreign satellite card authorised only for private use.

The Premier League took Anthony Luxton to court after various matches were shown at the Rhyddings pub in Swansea.

Key to their case is that the Danish TV pictures used the Premier League logo.

Mr Luxton argued at the High Court that it was an “illicit attempt” to stop foreign decoder cards being used.

He also said that the League’s claim foundered on the rock of European Union free trade rules, but this was rejected.

Mr Luxton’s solicitor Paul Dixon said after the case: “We will be looking very closely at the possibility of an appeal.”

The matches were shown in the pub between September and December 2012.

The League’s QC, Helen Davies, claimed the pub breached strict copyright rules by showing live matches using a satellite card, issued by a Danish broadcaster, during which the Premier League’s distinctive logo was depicted.

The card was only authorised for use in a private home, said the barrister, “and not for use in commercial premises such as the pub”.

“Euro-defence”   There was effectively “communication without consent”, she told Mrs Justice Rose.

The League’s lawyers argued that the foreign decoder cards could not be used in a “public” setting and that showing the Premier League logos in on-screen graphics was also a clear breach of copyright.

The case reached London’s High Court as the League’s legal team sought summary judgment against Mr Luxton on the grounds that his defence had no realistic prospect of success.

Miss Davies claimed Mr Luxton’s “Euro-defence” was “nothing more than a contrived attempt to avoid the obvious consequences of his conduct”.

Following a three-hour hearing, Mrs Justice Rose granted the League’s application and made a “declaration of infringement”. She also issued an injunction barring further unlawful screenings.

She ordered Mr Luxton to pay £65,000 in legal costs, pending final assessment of sum he owes.

“There is no defence to this claim and summary judgment must be entered,” she concluded, dismissing Mr Luxton’s case.

The Premier League welcomed the ruling.

A spokesperson said: “We are currently undertaking our largest ever investigations programme and have commenced legal action against several pubs and will continue to do so.

“Only Sky Sports and BT Sport are authorised to show live Premier League football in pubs in the UK and legitimate commercial subscriptions for use in pubs can be obtained from them.”

The case was the first of up to 100 prosecutions the Premier League is planning to bring up across Wales and England this season.

Last week, BBC Wales revealed the Premier League’s private investigation firm had visited nearly 200 pubs in south Wales in the last four months.


Jan 242014

Pubs in Cardiff and Swansea suspected of showing Premier League football matches illegally using foreign satellites face prosecution, BBC Wales has learned.

In the last four months the Premier League’s private investigation firm has visited nearly 200 pubs in south Wales.

The League is planning to bring up to 100 prosecutions across Wales and England this season.

The first will be against The Rhyddings Hotel in Brynmill, Swansea, shortly.

Many south Wales pubs have subscriptions with foreign channels and show Cardiff City and Swansea City’s 15:00 GMT Saturday Premier League kick-offs.

These games are unavailable on the Premier League’s authorised UK broadcasters – Sky Sports and BT Sport – at the kick-off time.

By showing the foreign channels, the Premier League believes pubs are probably breaking copyright law.

In 2011 Karen Murphy, a Portsmouth pub landlady, won a court case against the Premier League.

The ruling effectively proved it is legal to buy a TV subscription from anywhere in the EU.

However, when a pub or club uses such a subscription to show Premier League football matches, it is breaking copyright law if the League’s logo is shown in on-screen graphics, or if the League’s anthem is heard before kick-off or at half time.

Tom Richards, a barrister specialising in copyright law, said it was unlikely a pub could screen the games without breaching Premier League copyright.

“The Premier League owns the copyright in its logo, in its anthem and in other bits of sound recording and artwork which are superimposed on any feed of a Premier League match,” he said.

“If you play those in a pub without the Premier League’s consent that’s copyright infringement in the law of copyright.

“Technically speaking, there is a loophole.

“If you could separate out the copyrighted content, such as the Premier League logo, from the match footage, then in theory you wouldn’t be infringing copyright.


Jul 242013

The Premier League has appointed a firm of corporate investigators to carry out spot-checks and investigations into pubs and clubs showing live matches on Saturday afternoons.

Pubs can access the matches using foreign satellite systems which are often considerably cheaper than the British equivalents.