A European Court has
backed online company Yahoo! Inc's contention that it
should not pay the compilers for publishing English and Scottish football fixtures lists.
Football DataCo, a company that protects and markets images
and data for the English and Scottish Premier Leagues, had
accused Yahoo! UK, bookmaker Stan James and sports information
company Enetpulse of infringing its rights by using match lists
The fees for publishing the fixtures online and in
newspapers are distributed among professional clubs in England
In a judgment on Thursday, the European Union's Court of
Justice in Luxembourg said copyright protection did not extend
to fixture lists when there was little creative freedom in how
they are compiled.
"The court basically came out on the side of Yahoo!, stating
that football fixture lists could not be protected by
copyright," said Geert Glas, an intellectual property rights
lawyer at Allen & Overy in Brussels.
"The underlying reason is that while drawing up such a list
requires considerable effort and skill, it does not leave a lot
of room for originality, which is the key requirement for
copyright protection," he added.
However, Football DataCo said it planned to fight on and
still saw scope for winning a copyright case in Britain based on
the EU ruling.
"We are confident that the UK Court of Appeal will uphold
the database protection for the English and Scottish football
leagues' fixtures, which provide much needed revenue at all
levels of the professional game," it said in a statement.
Yahoo! took the opposite view, saying the judgment
vindicated its position in the long-running dispute. The case
will now return to the British legal system.
"Yahoo! now looks forward to the Court of Appeal hearing,
where the Court of Justice's rulings are applied so that the
Football Leagues' claims to a de facto monopoly over this
information can finally being put to rest," it said.
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