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UEFA Scores its own blocking injunction



United Kingdom

A recent blocking injunction requires internet service providers to block access to servers providing infringing streams of live UEFA matches.

Shortly before Christmas, the Union Des Associations Européennes De Football (UEFA) was granted a blocking injunction. The order requires internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to servers providing infringing streams of live UEFA matches. A full copy of the decision can be found here. UEFA's application was considered on paper so the decision is fairly brief.

The High Court granted the injunction under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This requires the defendants to take measures to block, or at least impede, access by their customers to streaming servers which deliver infringing live streams. The injunction was secured for the remainder of the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League and Europa League season and will take effect from 13 February 2018.

This comes after the FA Premier League ("FAPL") was granted a similar order last year which we published about here.

Mr Justice Arnold stated that the same requirements were met as for the original order granted to the FAPL (FAPL v BT I). However, he went on to expand upon two points from FAPL v BT I, in particular:

1. that his conclusion that "operators of Target Servers commit an act of communication" is supported by the later decision of the CJEU in Stichting BREIN v Ziggo BV (see our blog here); and

2. that his conclusion that "streaming is a different technical means to cable or satellite broadcasts which requires a separate authorisation from the rightholder" is supported by the subsequent decision of the CJEU in VCAST Ltd v RTI SpA.

The decision refers to the fact that UEFA's application was supported by the FAPL and Formula One World Championship Ltd (which controls the rights of the Formula One Championship). It will be interesting to see if a similar order is sought for the live streaming of other sports, such as Formula One.

The issue of the cost of enforcing such an order is currently in the spotlight. The current approach is that the applicants of the blocking injunction (i.e. the rights holder) bears the costs of the application, whilst ISPs must pay for the implementation costs of enforcing the order. This point has been considered in the Supreme Court Cartier case, which was heard in January. We are still awaiting the decision.


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