Tackling digital piracy of live sport events and protecting organisers  

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The unique live character of sport events requires special protection to allow for real time take downs, according to MEPs.

In a draft report adopted on Tuesday, with 18 votes in favour and 6 against, the Legal Affairs committee sets out recommendations to address the illegal transmission of sport events and the protection of intellectual property rights of their organisers.

Intellectual property rights

The report highlights the need improve the existing framework on enforcement of intellectual property rights for live sport events to reflect the specific nature of live broadcasts, as the exploitation of broadcast rights is an important source of organisers’ income. MEPs recall that sport events as such are not subject to copyright protection and that EU law does not provide for a specific right for sport event organisers.

Real-time take down of illegal content

MEPs call for further harmonisation of existing rules on notice and take down procedures in the context of the Digital Services Act. Current legislation needs to be further clarified and concrete measures adopted to reflect the short-time value of live sport events and to allow for real-time take down of illegal live sport broadcasts.

Online intermediaries would have to remove or disable illegal broadcasts “immediately, or as fast as possible and in any event no later than within 30 minutes of the receipt of the notification from right holders or a certified trusted flagger”, states the draft report.

MEPs underline that legal sport content offers should also be better promoted and made easier to find online for consumers.

Safeguards

The report highlights those measures should only target illegal content so as not lead to arbitrary or excessive blocking of legal content. They should be proportionate, in particular for small businesses, SMEs and start-ups and allow for access to judicial remedies, including protection of fundamental rights and personal data.

Quote

The rapporteur Angel Dzhambazki (ECR, BG) said: “Online piracy of live sport events is a major challenge faced by sport events’ organisers. It is important to enable an immediate and workable tool for the enforcement of rights for live sport events, including the possibility of real-time blocking of access to or removal of unauthorised online live sport content. The liability for illegal broadcasting of sports events rests with the providers of streams and platforms and not with fans and consumers, who often unintentionally come across illegal online content.”

Background

The draft report highlights the important social, cultural and economic role of sports and the constantly evolving technological developments, which have made online sport events more easily accessible to the public. This has however also led to a surge of their illegal online transmission and piracy within and outside the EU, causing significant economic damage to a sector already heavily impacted by COVID-19, in addition to increasing risks for users online (e.g. identity theft and malware).