Fantasy Football teams have been picked and this season’s strips bought, but where’s that illegal stream?
The Football Association recently obtained a season-long High Court injunction (here), requiring Premier League broadcasters including Sky, BT and Virgin Media to block unauthorised live streams such as those from Kodi sticks. This was in essence a repeat of a previous injunction that the FA had obtained for the tail end of last season (here).
The injunction works by the FA providing a list of IP addresses and target servers collated from monitoring infringing streams over a number of weeks. Interestingly, the specifics of this method were kept confidential, as attempts had been made to obviate the original measures. Despite this, it was found that the original order had been successful, with no instances of “overblocking”, and that a further order was justified.
It is well-established that the Court has the power to grant injunctions preventing copyright infringement under s.97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The real novelty with these particular injunctions is that the FA has obtained a live blocking injunction, meaning that it only takes effect whilst a Premier League game is being broadcast. The benefit of this is that the FA get their blocks when they need them the most, and the broadcasters only need to focus resources when necessary.
As technology continues to develop, it will be interesting to see how live blocking injunctions are used outside of sports broadcasts, for example, their application to social media channels or online auction sites.
That the broadcasters did not oppose the FA’s application is perhaps unsurprising, given that this second application was very similar to the first. Also, commercially speaking, with Sky and BT paying over £5bn for the broadcast rights to the Premier League during the last bidding round plus dwindling TV viewership and an increase in online Internet day passes, the parties have a vested interest in monitoring who can access their content.
It’s clear that the law is keeping up to speed with the current challenges facing football broadcasting. The bigger question is whether it will be required to intervene at all in a future where YouTube provides content for free and brands and rights holders are approaching fans to broadcast games. For the time being, the illegal streams are off for an early bath.