Is It Legal For A UK Pub To Access A Greek Satellite System To Get Cheaper Football Games On TV?

from the we'll-soon-find-out dept

cc alerts us to a very interesting legal case in Europe that's now going before the European Court of Justice. It involves a UK pub, which thought the rates that satellite TV provider Sky Sports was offering for Premier League football were ridiculously high -- and instead went and got a satellite card from a Greek satellite TV provider who offered Premier League matches for about 1/10th the cost. The Premier League, who is notorious for over-aggressively trying to limit people from watching the games except through (expensive) approved methods sued. The pub is arguing that this is a restraint on basic free trade principles:
"If I wanted to go and buy a car, I could go to any garage I like. Me, as a publican, if I want to show football, I can only go to the Sky garage, and have to pay ten times the price of anybody else [in Europe]. I don't believe that's fair."

Murphy's case rests on her freedom to trade, as she argues that restricting her choice of satellite TV provider to just Sky contravenes the principles of free movement of goods and services between countries in the EU.
This could be a huge deal if she wins. Currently, in Europe, each country has entirely different licensing schemes and systems for all sorts of content, creating something of a mess at times. There's long been an effort underway to create pan-European licensing, and a ruling in favor of the pub owner here might take at least some aspects of the content market to a point where there's now a de facto open market across borders. Copyright holders will scream bloody murder if this happens, but they also screamed bloody murder when the VCR was introduced, so sometimes it's a bit difficult to take them seriously on such things.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 7:19am

    OMG... you mean....

    ... the copyright holders might actually have to compete???? Heaven forbid...

    :-)

     

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  2.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    "Copyright holders will scream bloody murder if this happens, but..."

    the pub owner is paying! It's not like he hacked into a satellite feed and he's getting the games for free.

     

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  3.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 7:48am

    Re: OMG... you mean....

     

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  4.  
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    John Nelson (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 7:53am

    Don't have much hope for the pub owner

    I agree that it would be huge for Europe, where the national-based licensing scheme is more problematic than in the U.S. (imagine having to license each copyrighted work in each State), but I do not think the pub will win.

    Copyright control is left to each EU member. Most likely the court will pass on the issue by saying this is not a matter of trade because no good or service is being sent across borders. Rather, it is a matter of copyright licensing.

    Even so, one can always hope. I lived a year in England and SKY's rates were ridiculous. (Which is why I opted for equally, yet differently ridiculous Virgin cable.)

     

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  5.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 8:01am

    Why is this a question?

    This type of "licensing" is fundamentally ridiculous, and only slightly less so than the "DVD regions" that President Obama famously ran afoul of, on CLASSIC movies, not new releases! How can a copyright holder have any say on a product after said product has been legally copied? "Oh, you can consume our product in Germany, but not in Brazil." Once you have sold your product, you no longer have control. End of story. Licensing is the most bogus excuse for commerce yet created.

     

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  6.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Competition

    Competition seems to be the thing that modern media businesses fear the most. Live was so comfy-cozy (and profitable) when it was easy to enforce monopoly power.

     

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  7.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    Why can't they take it to the Monopolies commission in Brussels?

     

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  8.  
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    Comboman (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 9:04am

    Wrong target

    Premier League should be suing the Greek satellite provider since they are only licensed to sell to customers in Greece. They violated their licensing agreement by selling to a customer in the UK. It should not be a customer's responsibility to ensure that a vendor is acting according to their agreements with their suppliers.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 9:11am

    If the court accepts that the industry will cry, because part of their revenue is charging license fees in different regions, they don't want ever to change that, that is also why they don't like pirates, because pirates destroy that licensing scheme and windowed practices.

    Besides even if they loose what they will do is charge the same fee everywhere and kill the viewing of those things in places where people are not willing to pay, maybe that is a good thing as they loose exposure.

     

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  10.  
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    Ben (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 9:15am

    Re:

    Wait a minute, there's only one monopoly commission? Let's report them to the monopoly commission!!!

     

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  11.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 9:15am

    There should be no fiefdoms carved out by "licensing".

    Totally arbitrary limit that Sky profits from. If the market is Europe-wide and signals get to the ground, those should be the only concerns.

    ...
    (There. Got through that without saying that anyone watching sports, especially in a bar, is a dolt, and I don't care how much they pay for the privilege...)

     

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  12.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    Disregard any parenthetical comments that seem to be mine.

    Must be some sort of cross-feed on teh internets.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    when i read the subject, 2 things came to mind.

    1st - there are probably some broadcast related taxes that are included in any UK satellite subscription that aren't included in the Greek subscription (i have not researched that so please correct me if im wrong)

    2nd - I thought of customs, so one needs to check with the free trade agreement.

     

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  14.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 10:28am

    Down, peasants!

    "Free trade" applies to corporations, you smelly wretches, not to consumers. So long as manufacturers and providers are offshoring their operations, it's fine. But if one of you uppity bastards tries to take advantage of price differentials, there will be hell and the courts to pay.

     

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  15.  
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    adrian, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    please keep us updated

    i am curious to see what happens. something smells to me though. i am in canada and cannot subscribe to US dish program since they are only selling it to US customers.
    i believe same applies here. most likely the address provided by her when she subscribed was a Greek one instead of the UK otherwise she could not get the service most likely.

     

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  16.  
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    mike allen (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    If a signal is recievable then fine it is a EEC buiness and should be allowed under EC law.
    looking forward to the result.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    So... How does it feel to be on the other end of outsourcing, moneybags?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 2:19pm

    Hey that's a good idea If it wasn't for the lawsuit I wouldn't have though of that....me going to save me some money.

    Seems like they screwed themselves by allowing different prices and rates in different regions. Reason three hundred and fifty tow as to why you just don't make up different prices for different people.

    Finally under what law are they being sued under? They paid for the service...? So it must be the hey you can only use that somewhere else law?

     

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  19.  
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    yogi, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:06am

    Re: Down, peasants!

    Hear, hear!

     

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  20.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:04am

    Re:

    1st - there are probably some broadcast related taxes that are included in any UK satellite subscription

    AFAIK the only broadcast related tax is the BBC license fee - and I'm pretty sure that the pub will be paying that anyway.

     

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  21.  
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    Brendan (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 12:03am

    Objecting to this is ridiculous

    Of course they should be able to use the service. They're paying the provider, the signal is coming to them... it's done.

    Hell, I don't even object to cracked satellite boxes. That's the cost of broadcasting a signal in a blanket over a continent. People are free to do what they wish in their own homes - even if that includes decoding your sat signals without your permission.

    If it's broadcast to me, I can use it. Tough love.

     

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  22.  
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    Clemens Svt Webbtv, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 6:32pm

    The answer on this question will depend on the terms of agreement set. However, I also think that itís fair especially if they use it for public viewing. Using it at home is way different.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2010 @ 1:41am

    Contact this guy! He's a REAL satellite expert and can guide you on this issue!

    paul@sportssatellitesystems.co.uk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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