UK: Copyright News: Good And Bad

Last Updated: 11 May 2017
Article by Waldo Steyn

Two recent developments, one positive and one negative, highlight some of the serious issues that face copyright.

The positive development is that UK courts have again shown that they are prepared to deal decisively with difficult copyright issues posed by the electronic age. On 13 March 2017, in the case of Football Association Premier League Limited v British Telecommunications PLC, EE Limited, PlusNet PLC, Sky UK Limited, TalkTalk Telecom Limited and Virgin Media Limited, a UK court handed down a very interesting order – described as a "live" order, apparently the first of its kind to have been granted.

As the name of the case might suggest, it dealt with the lucrative world of broadcasting rights for Premier League football matches and the illegal streaming of broadcasts. Illegal streaming has seemingly become a real problem as a result of the proliferation of IPTV set-top boxes and other devices that connect directly to streaming services through their IP addresses rather than through internet browsers and websites. What the Football Association Premier League ("FAPL") wanted to achieve in this case was to cut off access to specific streaming servers.

The FAPL got what it wanted. Well-known IP judge, Judge Arnold, decided that the court does have jurisdiction to grant an order cutting off access to streaming servers under the UK copyright legislation, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988. The court ordered the six major internet service providers ("ISPs") that had been brought to court to block access to specific IP addresses that were delivering pirated streams of Premier League football broadcasts. Judge Arnold decided that UK courts have this power under section 97A of the legislation, a section that talks of the court's power to grant an injunction against a service provider, where that service provider has actual knowledge of another person using their service to infringe copyright.

In coming to the finding that the court has jurisdiction, Judge Arnold referred to a decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which held that operators of streaming servers commit an infringement when they take "conscious steps" to connect to and copy a source feed, make it available to a "new public" that hasn't been authorised to view it, and do so for profit. In addition, the judge said that in cases where the source feed is a satellite or cable broadcast, streaming amounts to transmission by different technical means, something that requires authorisation by the rights holder.

So, why is the order referred as a live one? What's meant by this phrase is that it's an order that's organic, an order that is, in fact, quite high maintenance. For example, blocking access can only take place while the football matches are being broadcast – normal service must resume as soon as the matches are over. Also, the list of target servers is to be updated on a weekly basis as new infringers are discovered. In addition, the order only lasts for two months, ending in May 2017, when the football season comes to an end. It's a far cry from the kind of order that UK courts have issued in the past, such as those compelling ISPs to block access to websites featuring trade mark infringement.

Less cheery news appeared in the UK newspaper The Guardian on 26 April 2017 – the negative development. The title of the article pretty much says it all: "More than half of young people watch illegal streams of live sports, study finds". The report dealt with the fact that a survey of 1 500 people (including 1 000 millennials) shows that "piracy has become normalized" for millennials, who are far less likely than older generations to rely on traditional subscription services. The survey found that 54% of millennials have at some time watched illegally streamed sports events, and that one third of them do so on a regular basis. The age issue becomes stark when you read that only 4% of those aged above 35 stream regularly.

All those who rely on copyright should be very concerned by this comment from a spokesperson for the body that conducted the research, Sports Industry Group: "Unless we are careful we will have a generation of young people who consider pirated sports content to be the norm ... that's a significant challenge not just for rights holders but the whole sector – from sponsors and athletes to ticketholders."

I think it's safe to say that there's considerable uncertainty about what is and what isn't legal when it comes to copyright. Much of this uncertainty is down to the breakneck pace of technological change, and the sheer ease with which materials can be accessed. There's also clearly a certain degree of normalisation taking place, especially when it comes to younger people. The challenge for those whose livelihood depends on copyright is to make sure that this field of law is better understood.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.