‘Live’ Blocking Orders – Football Association Premier League v BT

Summary

Piracy and illegal streaming has led broadcasters around the globe to attempt various measures of self-defence.  In this particular case, the High Court has awarded FAPL with an extension to their so-called live blocking order, which means that illegal streaming services providing access to live Premier League football matches can be temporarily blocked until the end of the 2018/19 season.

Background

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 specifies that the High Court has power to grant an injunction against a service provider that has ‘actual knowledge’ of another person using their service to infringe copyright.  In determining whether a service provider has such knowledge, the Court will take into account all relevant matters and have regard to whether a service provider has received a notice through a means of contact, and the extent to which any notice includes the identity of the sender of the notice and details of the infringement in question.

The Case

Last year, FAPL sought a live blocking order that would require various internet service providers to block specific providers of live copyright infringing streams of Premier League matches.  A live blocking order:

  • comes into effect when premier league matches are broadcasted live,
  • provides the list of target servers to be ‘re-set’ each match week during the season,
  • is applicable for a limited period, but can potentially be extended and
  • requires a notice to be sent to each hosting provider each week when one of its IP addresses is subject to a block.

The (first) order was granted and in effect from 18 March 2017 to 22 May 2017.  Subsequently in 2017, the High Court issued a similar (second) order, running until May 2018 and presenting FAPL with an opportunity for extension.  Such an application was made and on 18 July 2018 the High Court issued a Decision to grant an extension to cover the 2018/19 season. 

The Decision suggested that there was no evidence of over blocking.  Also, evidence filed by FAPL indicated that the order was “very effective” in achieving the blocking of access to the target servers during Premier League matches, said High Court Judge Arnold J.

In the future it will be interesting to see whether other copyright owners apply for live blocking orders. If you have any queries regarding copyright, please contact one of our attorneys.


© 2018 Wilson Gunn