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Concluding comments

Poor Karen Murphy had more in common with Jean-Marc Bosman than she might have wished. Her victory was hollow. She was able to defeat the criminal conviction because she had paid for her decoder card (albeit it was sourced in Greece) and she had not acted dishonestly.[1] She celebrated ‘with a bottle of Sambuca’.[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] But she could no longer show matches for free.169 Following the ruling, the Premier League has continued to pursue pubs that show matches without authorization, and therefore without having paid a fee, and it has periodically secured the award of several thousands of pounds as compensation for copyright infringement. 17° The match itself is beyond the scope of copyright, but the League has adjusted its production values to maximize the amount of content that is covered in law by copyright.171 Territorial separation, and differential pricing, can no longer be protected as aggressively as in the past, but restrictions caused by the language used for commentary go some way to preserving the pre-existing patterns.172 The ruling did not address the licensing of rights to watch matches online, and this is doubtless the next frontier in charting the tension between the desire to maximize revenues from the sale of rights, on the one hand, and sustaining the principle of the internal market, on the other. The intolerance of absolute territorial protection, where exclusive territorial licences are tipped over the edge by supplementary restrictions that go too far, doubtless remains the watermark for future investigation and planning.

However, the incentives for pubs to continue to attract customers by showing matches illicitly remains strong, and it is the direct result of the discrepancy between the rights charged to commercial premises in the UK by SKY and the price of a purely domestic subscription in a low-price territory. One does not have to be too skilful or alert to find a pub in which to watch a Premier League match live on a Saturday afternoon in the towns and cities of England. And it takes a special kind of incompetent not to be able to find a site with links to watch any Premier League game anywhere in the world on the internet for free,173 even if sometimes accompanied by a commentary in a language that is harder to decipher than some of the refereeing decisions in favour of the bigger clubs. Borderless technology rather than EU law is the main threat to the prevailing sports broadcasting business models.

  • [1] Karen Murphy v Media Protection Services Ltd [2012] EWHC 466 (Admin). For a furtherrestraint, limiting the intervention of trading standards authorities funded by the FAPL against tradersin decoders, Helidon Vuciterni, ALSATUK[2012] EWCA 2140 (Admin).
  • [2] accessed 29 November 2016.
  • [3] 169 In the English courts, see eg FAPL v QCLeisure [2012] EWHC 108 (Ch).
  • [4] 17° eg ‘Pub [New Inn, Stratton] fined ?7,000 over TV football’ Swindon Advertiser (Swindon, 22 November 2014) accessed 29 November 2016.
  • [5] R Boyle, ‘Battle for Control? Copyright, Football and European Media Rights’ (2015) 37Media, Culture and Society 359. See also A Andreangeli, ‘Weathering the Murphy Storm: DomesticIP Litigation and Industrial Consolidation as Pragmatic Responses to the Court of Justice’s Decision?’(2016) 8 Journal of Media Law 173.
  • [6] 172 Boyle (n 171).
  • [7] Exactly such possibilities, albeit in connection with hockey, provoked Case C-279/13 C MoreEntertainment AB v Sandberg, judgment of 26 March 2015 (Directive 2001/29/EC on copyright(n 128)).
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