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Transmission Impossible?

31 March 2011

This week saw the outcome of Football Dataco’s (the FA Premier League subsidiary) latest court fixture, involving its “Football Live” database, comprising data from matches in progress.

Sportradar, the European-based defendants, provide “live scores” data to UK companies including bet365.

One issue involved “database right”. “Extraction” or “re-utilization” of a qualifying database would infringe this right, and re-utilization as defined includes “transmission”. As UK database right only covers acts within the UK, was Sportradar’s provision of data over the internet (from Austrian servers) extraction or re-utilization within the UK?

Dataco argued that a transmission needs both a sender and receiver, so takes place in both countries. Sportradar says “transmission” occurs only where the data is sent.

Although Sportradar’s view suggests defendants could escape liability just by having overseas servers, theirs is surely the only practical interpretation, given that finding otherwise could mean website proprietors having to comply with copyright laws worldwide.

The Court of Appeal referred the question to the ECJ. You could say all bets are off…

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