British pub owners to get their day in European court

BGonaSTICK

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British pub and bar owners have had a long-running dispute with BSkyB over the cost of screening Premier League soccer matches, and there have been a dozen and one ruses attempted to by-pass the rules. Pubs have now won a small but important victory: a judge has allowed them to take their case to the European Court of Justice.

The argument revolves around the freedom to watch TV signals from a nearby region. The Football Association Premier League (FAPL) has an action running against a group of bar-owners as well as a number of importers of foreign satellite equipment and so-called smart cards.

The decoder cards allow the pubs to view Premier League games when transmitted on other European channels, not normally available in the UK. The equipment and legitimate smart cards are also significantly cheaper than the costs levied by BSkyB.

The defendants in the case have argued that, under European single market rules, the FAPL is not entitled to stop the decoder cards being imported to the UK. In the London High Court of Justice, Mr Justice Kitchin agreed to the defendants' request to have the case referred to the European Court of Justice. The judge told the Court that he tended to agree with the points of law argued by the defendants. A win for the pubs and bars would inevitably lead to a significant loss of income for BSkyB.

Source: Rapid Tv News
 

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Very good news!:)
+i hope that the bar owners will win,against sky,this is against,the regelmentation,of a free market!
,everyone must have the same rights,here in europe,to watch all channels!
 

rolfw

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Turok said:
Very good news!:)
+i hope that the bar owners will win,against sky,this is against,the regelmentation,of a free market!
,everyone must have the same rights,here in europe,to watch all channels!

Well they haven't won anything yet, so don't pop the cork on the bubbly. ;)

This will certainly be an interesting one to monitor, as it is not as straightforward a case as would appear to be indicated above.

Firstly, this has very little to do with joseph public and the domestic viewing of European subscription satellite channels, people arguing on behalf of the publicans try and muddy the waters, by bringing us, the general public into the equation.

It is all about commercial use of the foreign satellite viewing cards sold for home viewers, on which most will have the condition that the card is not to be used for commercial use. They are in effect using a standard home subscription to show football to paying customers, regardless of where it comes from.

If the law comes out for the publicans and legitimises the use of foreign cards, overturning existing copyright agreements, then what will happen, is that they (the pubs) will be forced to pay proper commercial rates for the cards, which may or may not be significantly less than the BSkyB charges, but they certainly won't be the low prices of the foreign domestic cards.

This could have been all sorted out years ago, if the licensed trade organisations had got together and boycotted BSkyB for half a season, the prices would have come down very quickly.
 

bigtee

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Slippery slope .... as they say ... slippery slope.

I am reading the actual judgment (all 98 pages of it) of Mr. Justice Kitchin that refers the consolidated cases to the European Court at the moment. The way the lawyers have presented the case for the FAPL, an inexorable conclusion/follow up/corollary will be that it is simply unlawful to watch English premiership in the UK "with a decoder that gives unauthorised access".

Note the argument is leading to the end that to watch the Premiership in the UK with even a subscription (say a foreign subscription), but which is not with Sky, will be illegal. And that will not be restricted to pubs or publican ..................
 

rolfw

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Yes, I'm sure you are correct, but they need to establish this in the first instance, if that doesn't succeed, then I'm sure they'll fall back to a secondary position.

However, not sure whether they'd have bothered at all, had Licensees not stuck a finger up to them, as preventing home viewers from watching other suppliers services, would be nigh impossible.
 

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My worry is the long term potential consequence following claimants' current line of argument i.e. that as Sky (I suppose now add Setanta) is the UK licensee, to watch Premiership football in the UK by any other means including buying/paying for subscription from/to a non-UK provider should be deemed illegal.

That means using an unpatched receiver and subscribing to say Digitalb (or Showtime or ART etc etc) will be considered illegal ---- criminalising people for what seems to be a reasonable use of legitimate equipment. I emphasised the word legitimate there because part of the claimants' argument is that to import/sell (ultimately to use) 'foreign decoders/cards' (edited: allegedly "illicit device") to watch Premiership football in the UK should be illegal! I mean come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We complain about erosion of civil liberties by government ---- but to me such erosion of liberties by private entities takes an even greater share of the proverbial biscuit.
 

rolfw

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Well the thing is, that with copyright law as it stands, you are breaking your contract with the european card providers by using them outside their copyright zone, try going direct to DigitalB or Premiere and asking to buy a subscription, they won't sell you one, unless you have an address inside their copyright area.

There has been a huge push by several companies to sell and install these systems and cards into licensed premises, these are the people who have spurred the Premier League's court action on the way to making big profits, hence why they are bleating so much.

Unfortunately the knock on effect of an unsuccessful case on behalf of the licensees/Installers, as they cannot restrict the legality to commercial use only, may be that the cards will no longer be available from UK suppliers, but I'm sure that they will continue to be available from internet sellers to the general public.

But let's take it one step further, when, until fairly recently, were you able to watch all of these matches on TV, it is only an erosion of very recently acquired and somewhat dubious liberty, not to mention the flouting of the 3pm closed period.
 

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I believe that the move to the EU Courts is positive for the defendants because disregarding stupid territorial copyright agreements, there are directives and treaties which suggests such territorial restriction should not be bound. I do believe though like rolf stated that the EU Court may rule that licensees may have to pay commercial rates for the cards but as far as domestic viewing is concerned, we should all have the right to subscribe to whatever broadcaster we want. I believe as far as copyright is concerned, the broadcasters agreements are unfair because we are paying for the copyright to view it no matter where the broadcasts are and as far as movie companies are concerned, as long as you pay for it, they haven't got a problem with cross border satellite transmissions. I am hoping that the ruling allows satellite suppliers to continue selling cards to viewers outside territories. If it is ruled illegal, well make way for the hacking industry to continue and peer to peer streaming technology to develop which can distribute channels globally at low cost.
 

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An interesting contrast with the situation in England:

Germany’s federal cartel office wants to prevent coverage of national soccer league Bundesliga being shown for the most part only on pay-TV. “It certainly would not be appropriate if the Bundesliga coverage were to be almost exclusively moved to pay-TV”, a spokesperson of the Bonn-based authority told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
At the same time, the cartel office signalled that it had, after its months’ long investigation, reached an agreement regarding the centralised selling of television rights through national soccer association Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) and its new partner Leo Kirch. “We have approved the central marketing of the Bundesliga. The ways and means still have to be clarified”, said the spokesperson, adding that, however, the centralisation means a cartel of the Bundesliga clubs and therefore the Bundesliga games must to a large extent continue to be screened on free-to-air television. “If we allow a cartel like that, we have to ensure that viewers will benefit from its advantages.”

The tender for the Bundesliga rights has been put on ice for months due to the cartel office’s investigation. The authority is leaving open the timescale necessary to conclude the process. The cartel office’s comments are a blow for pay-TV operator Premiere, which has long been pushing for moving a larger part of the Bundesliga coverage to subscription television to gain more exclusivity. DFL also sees pay-TV as providing the most potential for increasing its income.

Source: Rapid Tv News

Actually it seems that we sometimes forget that before the muscling in by Sky with the collusion of the FAPL, top flight football was totally free in this country as well. Personally, I have no sympathy for Sky's business model of buying everything up/pricing others out with the hope of recouping by charging Joe Public at ridiculous premiums.
 

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Top flight live televised football was indeed totally free, but also very scarce prior to Sky taking on the newly formed Premiership in the early 90s. Prior to that, you would get recorded highlights and a single live match on a Sunday afternoon transmitted by ITV and some cup matches from the BBC.
 

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I don't blame Sly so much as the FAPL.

The recent carve up of matches was almost laughable, they PL know that the deciding factor whether you watch a match is about what team is playing. Not the kick off times.

Why not sell the rights based on Teams not kick off times

i.e. but a subscription to all Man Ures away games, or all Aston Villas away games. Plus offer a gerneral package.

The Setanta / Sly split is a joke !!!

Apologies for digressing but if it wasn't for the willful fleecing of the average man by the FAPL then I dont think encryption and out of country cards would be such an issue
 

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any updates yet on this court case ?
 

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"[They] may be some time"!

It will now take between 1 or 2 years before this is resolved; European Court has to give a ruling ---- then it may come back to the British courts.
 

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So its okay for people all over Europe to pay and watch sky sports(illegal or not,the signal for sky sports is VERY strong,it doesn't have to be,and if the signal was reduced,sky would lose a lot of revenue so they know what they are doing) but they complain if we get the foreign channels in UK. How come Nova,Showtime,Art sports etc do not complain in the UK about breach of contract ?
 

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zorba said:
So its okay for people all over Europe to pay and watch sky sports(illegal or not,the signal for sky sports is VERY strong,it doesn't have to be,and if the signal was reduced,sky would lose a lot of revenue so they know what they are doing) but they complain if we get the foreign channels in UK. How come Nova,Showtime,Art sports etc do not complain in the UK about breach of contract ?

is euro not meant to be one and what you get in germany you are meant to have in spain italy malta england / sky well sky itailia say it all
:mad:
 

rolfw

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zorba said:
So its okay for people all over Europe to pay and watch sky sports(illegal or not,the signal for sky sports is VERY strong,it doesn't have to be,and if the signal was reduced,sky would lose a lot of revenue so they know what they are doing) but they complain if we get the foreign channels in UK. How come Nova,Showtime,Art sports etc do not complain in the UK about breach of contract ?

There is one significant difference between what you say above and what is happening in the UK.

Sky are showing English football, mostly to English or British expats, they are not showing Spanish league matches in Spain to the detriment of Digital+ or German league matches in Germany etc. Furthermore, they would certainly not cost ART, Showtime or probably any other provider subscriptions in their home areas, as they don't show the 3pm matches and in most cases a Sky subscription would be far more expensive.

I would also add, that were it not for the blatant commercial use of these out of area cards, this probably wouldn't be a major issue.
 

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Maybe if Sky stopped transmissions to foreign countries outside of UK times (ie. 3pm), the foreign cards would be worthless.
 

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As far as I know its the FA that's doing the complaining about landlords
showing Premiership games to their customers through foreign subs. But the FA are really to blame, every weekend there are a host of television broadcasters broadcasting live premiership football to their domestic audience to which they have payed the FA millions for the rights to broadcast. English Premier league football is no longer just about the domestic game it's about big business.
With regard to the landlords getting a cheap access to viewing when they could be paying 10 times the amount is wrong, but I don't know how that could be policed.
 

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rolfw said:
There is one significant difference between what you say above and what is happening in the UK.

Sky are showing English football, mostly to English or British expats, they are not showing Spanish league matches in Spain to the detriment of Digital+ or German league matches in Germany etc.
But they do show live spanish and I think italian games,so what happens if a brit owned pub in spain showed live spanish football on a sky digibox ?
And would it be worthwhile for a spaniard to install a sky system to watch live spanish games ?
 

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I BELIEVE IN THE EU AND FREE MOVEMENT OF GOODS PEOPLE AND SERVICES BUT:

After running a very successful alternative football website I called it quits when I admitted what I was doing was copyright theft( and court writs)

Here is a similarity:

Bob approaches a large car dealer and asks to have the SOLE rights to selling their products on say the Isle Of Wight. He has a contract to this. He trades happily for years, then low and behold a dealership opens across the road by Jim also claiming to have genuine vehicles for sale direct from the factory. ( memoirs of Tesco Vs Levi Jeans mmm). He sells the same products at a vastly lower price, it transpires that the car dealer never sold Jim the rights to that territory. This is a copyright infringment, pure and simple, Jim is liable to private prosecution, possibly imprisonment however as it is civil it will be large fines, AND RIGHTLY SO.

SKY paid for the territorial rights to the UK to the FAPL, SO NO ONE has the right to show games except other UK copyright holders, simple. Whether we like it or not.

The FAPL drives prosecutions, as SKY have a right to redress if they feel what they paid for is not being protected ie ( compensation). Even if the TWF is successful in Europe it WILL NOT stop private prosecutions.

SKY cannot stop the leakage of viewing cards to Europe, they are the most secure providers in Europe.

This is likewise if Spanish bar owners decide to use SKY to view domestic games, unlikely as commercial prices in Europe are so low and the commentary would be in English.

Moderators beware, allowing your sponsors to advertise live football means you are facilitating the sale of such football viewing cards, therefore you can also be liable to prosecution and if found guilty the Proceeds Of Crime Act, believe me I know. This is also true to publicans, break criminal Law you could loose more than just a big fine.

SKY is a rip off but only because publicans have let them be, all very boring!!
 
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