Premier League to Clamp Down on Pubs Breaching Copyright

February 27, 2012

The Premier League will continue their pursuit of pubs who breach copyright following the High Court decision on Friday to overturn the conviction against Karen Murphy, the landlady of Portsmouth’s Red, White & Blue pub.

Murphy had been prosecuted after setting up a Greek decoder card to show English top-flight matches from an overseas satellite feed. Murphy won an appeal to the European Court of Justice in October, and the decision was endorsed by the High Court on Friday.

Although Murphy successfully argued that the use of foreign goods and services must be permitted under European law, Lord Justice Kitchin’s decisions at the High Court have reinforced the League’s rights under separate intellectual-property statutes, and the league is determined to carry on taking action against pubs who use foreign feeds.

“The law gives us the right to prevent the unauthorised use of our copyrights in pubs and clubs when they are communicated to the public without our authority,” said the League in a statement on Friday.

“[Publicans who] use European Economic Area foreign satellite systems to show Premier League football on their premises without our authority and outside the scope of our authorisation make themselves liable to action in both the civil and criminal courts.”

Premier League investigators make repeat visits to suspected pubs to gather evidence. Cease-and-desist letters follow and, after another visit by investigators, criminal proceedings will ensue.

The courts’ penalties have, in the past, extended to four-figure fines and the award of legal costs to the Premier League.

However, due to the criminal nature of breaches, publicans would also be risking their alcohol licences. A League source explained: “We are still pursuing convictions on those using non-EEA cards as well. There’s a database and we know who we are going after.

“The usual culprits are in the North East, the North West, the West Midlands and north London. Some of them will be high-profile places.”

Euroview, who are a major supplier of set-top boxes and cards has declared its intention to “invest in the development of new technology that will allow a risk-free solution” to the clampdown.

It is clear the League remains vulnerable to the exploitation of loopholes in the law. One might be that Murphy was using a Greek residential and not a commercial decoder card intended for Greek pubs.

by Ismail Uddin