Europe Proposes Real-Time Blocking Of Illegal Sports Broadcasts

On April 13, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament approved a report that urges the European Commission to propose specific measures adapted to live sporting events, allowing real-time blocking of access to illegal sports content online, or the withdrawal of these without interrupting the legal retransmissions.

MEPs presented proposals to end the growing phenomenon of illegal live broadcasts of sporting events. To combat this problem, they ask the Commission to clarify and improve the existing legal framework on intellectual property rights for live sporting events, currently not subject to copyright protection.

They also call for specific provisions on the rights of organizers

Since for them the granting of broadcasting rights is a key source of income, and recall that some Member States have introduced specific legal protection that organizers can benefit from.

According to MEPs, the regulations must be reviewed taking into account the specific and time-limited value of live sporting events. They believe that specific measures are necessary to ensure the immediate removal of illegal content, with guarantees. The text calls for retransmissions to be removed or deactivated immediately and no later than thirty minutes after notification by rights holders or a certified “trust flag”.

The  Parliament emphasizes  the importance of platforms acting quickly by removing content and proposes establishing common criteria in the EU to designate certified “trust indicators”, as well as greater harmonization of procedures and resources of the future Services Law Digital and in other specific proposals of the sector.

The injunction procedures to withdraw illegal sporting events must avoid the arbitrary or excessive blocking of legal content, MEPs insist. Enforcement measures must be proportionate and include the possibility of judicial redress, especially for small and start-up companies.

They also recommend promoting the legal supply of sports content and making it easier for consumers to search on the Internet. Responsibility for illegal broadcasts should lie with providers, and not with fans or consumers, the resolution clarifies.

The report was approved with 479 votes in favor, 171 against and 40 abstentions.

“Piracy of live sporting events is the biggest challenge organizers face. The problem with the existing measures is that their application comes too late. The report calls on the Commission to clarify and adapt existing legislation, including the possibility of issuing court orders for real-time blocking or removal of authorized content,’ said rapporteur Angel Dzhambazki (EPP, Bulgaria) .

In the context of the 2019 copyright directive, the Commission stated that it was assessing the challenges sporting event organizers face in the digital environment, in particular issues related to illegal broadcasting, and committed to monitor Parliament’s proposals to address these challenges. The proposal on the Digital Services Law, which is currently being scrutinized by Parliament, includes measures to deal with this problem, but does not address the challenges faced by specific sectors.

Live broadcasting of sporting events plays an important role in the economy and brings great profit to the organizers. Many of these, however, are illegally broadcast on specialized professional websites that are financed through fees or advertising, a practice that violates intellectual property rights. In addition, this form of digital hacking puts the security of users at risk, exposing themselves to malicious software from free applications, theft of credit card credentials, etc.

A sporting event per se does not qualify for copyright protection

As it is not a qualifying “work” under copyright law. On the other hand, the recording of a sporting event or its retransmission is eligible for protection. Although there are no Community rules, some Member States have specific rules on live nba중계 broadcasting.

The economic value of a broadcast sporting event lies in the fact that it is broadcast live and most of it is lost when the event ends. Therefore, the scope for relevant action against piracy is slim and challenging. Current measures against piracy of live sporting events are ineffective as they take time and are not applied instantly. MEPs from the Legal Affairs Committee maintain that the best remedy against unauthorized broadcasting is its immediate termination.

The objective is “to stop the thousands and thousands of existing illicit broadcasts that obtain the signal of different sporting events in the EU and broadcast them illegally”, explains the president of the Legal Affairs Committee, the Spanish MEP Adrián Vázquez Lázara, from the Renew group. As sports clubs currently cannot sell tickets, “we have to protect their only income, that of television rights,” he adds.

The report by the Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki

From the group of European Conservatives and Reformists, approved in the plenary session on May 19, contemplates the improvement of the protection of existing rights in order to achieve their effective and full execution. Termination of unauthorized content should take place immediately after notification of the infringement by rights holders and no later than 30 minutes after the start of the sporting event. The rules should apply only to professional pirates and not to users, who are often unaware that they are viewing illegal content. These will also not affect the short sequences shared between fans, belonging to their culture and do not infringe any rights.

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