Europe’s highest court has thrown out a case alleging copyright infringement by betting companies. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered the ruling earlier today on the case referred from the Court of Appeal (England and Wales). It involved Football Dataco’s complaint that certain media and sports betting firms hadn’t paid to display fixtures. In a nutshell they were alleging intellectual copyright infringement.
The court ruled fixture lists don’t give rise to a copyright and the key points, as identified by the joint Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) release, were as follows:
- The copyright protection provided for by the Database Directive concerns the ‘structure’ of the database, and not its ‘contents’. That protection does not extend to the data itself”.
- “The notion of ‘intellectual creation’, which is a necessary condition in order to be eligible for copyright protection, refers to the sole criterion of originality”.
- “significant labour and skill on the part of its author does not justify, as such, the protection of it by copyright if that labour and that skill do not express any originality”
Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the RGA, welcomed the ruling and commented: “It is disappointing that it has taken so long to reach this position of clarity; nevertheless we are grateful to the CJEU for providing such an unequivocal judgement. As we have said before, this will hopefully encourage professional sports to build on the current commercial relationships with the betting industry in the best interests of all concerned.”
Sigrid Ligne, EGBA secretary general, echoed similar sentiments, stating: “The focus now should be on strengthening the commercial ties between the online betting industry and professional sports.”
She also added: “The fact, though, is that sport is still missing out on commercial opportunities with the betting industry in countries like Germany, Portugal and Poland because of sponsorship and advertising restrictions. We encourage the European Commission to take actions against these countries in order to remove these regulatory barriers.”
Today’s ruling is the latest in a long line of failed cases brought by Football Dataco. The method they use smacks of a similar tactics used by patent trolls to command a fee from various firms all round the world. In taking Football Dataco successfully to court it’s a big victory for media companies and betting firms that have continually protested their innocence.
It all now means that publication of football fixtures is fair game and there’s no reason to make up ludicrous names for teams! No more Middlesborough Red and White Sox versus Newcastle Magpies!