LUXEMBOURG: For many decades many foreign newspapers and magazines and, lately, broadcasters and websites based in continental Europe have complained that England was the only country whose football authorities demanded payment for its claim to copyright over league and cup fixture lists writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Now a ruling by the European Court of Justice has supported the complaint that claiming copyright – and therefore revenue – is unjustified.
The copyrighting of fixtures, and hence the perceived right to price for use, evolved in the 1920s as a way in which English football could recoup money from the pools companies which generated huge profits by using fixtures without paying anything back to the game itself.
Now the issue has resurfaced after online company Yahoo! Inc claimed it should not pay the compilers for publishing English and Scottish fixtures lists. Football DataCo, which seeks to monetise every kick of the ball in major English and Scottish competitions, had accused Yahoo! UK, bookmaker Stan James and sports information company Enetpulse of infringing its rights by using match lists without authorisation.
In Thursday’s judgment on Thursday, the European Union’s Court of Justice in Luxembourg said copyright protection did not extend to fixture lists because compilation did not involve creative originality.
Football DataCo has said it planned to fight on in the hope of winning a copyright case in Britain based on the EU ruling.
A statement said: “We are confident that the UK Court of Appeal will uphold the database protection for the English and Scottish football leagues’ fixtures, which provide much needed revenue at all levels of the professional game.”
Yahoo! responded: “Yahoo! looks forward to the Court of Appeal hearing, where the Court of Justice’s rulings are applied so that the Football Leagues’ claims to a de facto monopoly over this information can finally being put to rest.”