12/08/2010

Recent UK cases: TV Catch Up; Football Dataco

Barrister Jane Lambert, the head and founder of NIPC Law,
reports (and links to) a UK High Court of Justice decision in ITV Broadcasting v. TV Catch Up. The court declined to dismiss a copyright infringement suit filed by television broadcasters against the operator of a website that allows its subscribers to watch live TV broadcasts on their computers or mobile devices. The website operator sought dismissal on the grounds that it was neither "broadcasting" TV programs nor "making [them] available to the public," both of which require a license under UK law. Though these arguments seem far-fetched to an American law professor, Ms. Lambert commented that
It is important to stress that the judge did not give judgment to the broadcasters. He simply said that they could win at trial and he has allowed them to continue their action.
Bird & Bird report on another UK High Court of Justice decision, in which the court also denied a defense motion to dismiss. The defendants in Football Dataco v. Sportradar copied and sold the claimants' statistics from UK football matches - activities which are said to infringe the claimants' copyright and database rights. The first issue before the court was whether it had jurisdiction to hear the case. Though the claimants are UK nationals, the defendants are German and Swiss; and they argued that they are not "making [copies of the claimants' database] available" in the UK, because the defendants' servers are only in Germany and Austria - not in the UK. The judge agreed:
I have come to the conclusion that the better view is that the act of making available to the public by online transmission is committed and committed only where the transmission takes place. It is true that the placing of data on a server in one state can make the data available to the public of another state but that does not mean that the party who has made the data available has committed the act of making available by transmission in the State of reception. I consider that the better construction of the provisions is that the act only occurs in the state of transmission.
Nevertheless, the court refused to dismiss the case, because the defendants' customers in the UK also were alleged to have violated the claimants' copyright and database rights; and though the customers were not sued, the defendants were said to have authorized and been jointly liable for their customers' infringements.