Monday, 12 November 2012

No EU Rights in Fixtures Lists -- Court of Justice Judgment

The long-running claim by the English and Scottish professional football leagues, Football DataCo, and its sub-contractor PA Sport has finally come to an end, four years after it started: Football Dataco Ltd & Ors v Yahoo! UK Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1696 (12 November 2012). The Claimants told the Court of Appeal that, following the Court of Justice's decision, they accepted they did not have rights in the fixture lists.

The Court of Appeal declared that neither database copyright nor sui generis database rights subsists in the EU in fixtures lists. It ordered the claimants to post this message on their respective websites for a month clarifying the position:
Following the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union dated 1 March 2012 in Case C-604/10 Football Dataco Ltd v Yahoo! UK Ltd & Others, it has been determined that neither copyright nor sui generis database rights subsist in the EU in fixture lists for the English and Scottish football leagues."
The claimants suggested at the hearing before the Court of Appeal that they might find a way to create fixture lists in a new way in future that attracted protection, but they do not seem to have any concrete ideas at present. Given that the Court of Justice found that the activity conducted by the Claimants in creating the fixtures should be disregarded when assessing whether the fixture lists merited protection, they sound very optimistic indeed.

Presumably now there will be rather a lot of claims for repayment of licence fees - especially for the period since the Court of Justice decided that there were no rights to support the claimants' licensing activities.

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