London’s Court of Appeal has asked the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in resolving the dispute between media giant Yahoo! Inc. and UK football leagues over the right to publish annual fixture lists. This past April, a lower UK court ruled that the leagues had a right to control the use of their match schedules, but Yahoo wouldn’t let it go. Now the Court of Appeal judges have referred the case to the EU Court of Justice for clarification of ‘database copyright’ issues, which they feel are of “considerable interest within the EU.”
The ECJ has dealt with this issue in 2004, when they ruled in favor of bookmaker William Hill’s right to utilize published football and horseracing data. That ruling (summarized in detail here) reversed a UK court’s decision. This time around, the leagues are claiming copyright on their lists as a database, but they’re also seeking a general copyright claim, which they hope would give them a rock solid legal position in any future disputes over the issue.