On 04 October 2011, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the FA Premier League (FAPL) which markets the television broadcasting rights for Premier League cannot prohibit television viewers from using decoder cards bought and imported from foreign broadcasters. FAPL brought proceedings against two Greek companies which exported to and sold the Greek decoders in the UK. The FAPL also brought proceedings against the British publican Karen Murphy who purchased a Greek decoder card to show Greek broadcasts of live! FAPL football to her customers in order to avoid paying the higher UK subscription fees.
The ECJ found that “a system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches which grants broadcasters territorial exclusivity on a Member State basis and which prohibits television viewers from watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other Member States is contrary to EU law” and that this "cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums."
The ECJ judgment (which cannot itself be appealed) will now be passed back down to the UK High Court for interpretation.
The ECJ decisions (file numbers C-403/08 and C-429/08) are available at http://curia.europa.eu.