Premier League set for European Court of Justice hearing
Wed 29th Sep 2010 | Legal
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) hearing in the Premier League’s case against QC Leisure, a supplier in the UK of foreign television smartcards, will take place in the court’s Grand Chamber on October 5 according to TV Sports Markets website.
The Grand Chamber of 13 judges is reserved for the most important and most complex cases of European law. Most ECJ cases are heard before three or five judges. The decision to hold the hearing in the Grand Chamber reinforces the view that the outcome of the case will have enormous implications for the way in which sports rights – and possibly all intellectual property rights – are sold in Europe.
It’s understood that at the heart of the case there is a clash between the two principles of European law: the free movement of goods and services between EU member states and the right of content producers to sell licenses for their intellectual property on an exclusive national basis.
If the court privileges the free movement of goods and services over copyright protection, this could, some lawyers believe, prevent the league from requiring licensees across Europe to ensure that their broadcasts are not available in other EU territories.
An un-named lawyer said “in practice, the Premier League would no longer be able to divide Europe into separate markets.”
A more conservative view is that, in practice, it would lead to nothing more than an expansion of the existing ‘grey market’, in which many expatriates already subscribe to television services from their homeland, many using a bogus address, or can access them through devices like Slingbox.
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