Stop illegal live sports streaming, urge MEPs

Find out how MEPs want to stop the pirating of live sports transmissions.

The illegal broadcast of live sports events deprives rights owners of a lot of revenue
MEPs want more measures to stop the illegal broadcast of live sports events ©Terovesalainen/AdobeStock

What is the problem with illegal sports streaming?

Broadcasting live sports plays an important role in the economy, providing a major source of revenue to event organisers . However, live sports broadcasts are often transmitted illegally online by dedicated professional websites, whose business model is based on subscription fees or advertising.


of right owners´ revenue comes from broadcast rights

This infringes intellectual property rights and could be a security risk for users, who could be exposed to malware or data theft, including credit card fraud.

Sports event and copyright

Sport events as such do not qualify for copyright protection, as they are not a “work” as defined by EU copyright law, although the recording of a sports event is protected. Some countries have introduced specific rules covering live broadcasts, but they are not harmonised at EU level.

The need for swift redress

Live sports broadcasts have a time-limited economic value - the duration of the event - meaning the window for action against piracy is small.

Current procedures against live streaming piracy are long and not immediately applicable, so lack efficacy. MEPs say the best remedy is the immediate termination of an unauthorised broadcast.

Lead MEP Angel Dzhambazki (ECR, Bulgaria) said: “The piracy of live sport events is a major challenge for sport event organisers. The problem with existing measures is that enforcement comes too late. The report calls on the Commission to clarify and adapt existing legislation, including the possibility of issuing injunctions requesting the real-time blocking of access to or removal of unauthorised online content."

How MEPs want to tackle illegal sports streaming

The report, approved by MEPs on 19 May, calls for the extension of existing rights to live broadcasts. It urges the European Commission to propose concrete measures specifically adapted to live sports events, allowing for the immediate removal of, or the disabling of access to, content without blocking the legal live broadcast.

The removal of illegal content should take place immediately after reception of the notice and no later than 30 minutes after the start of the event. The new rules should target professional illegal broadcasters, not viewers who are often unaware that they are consuming illegal content.

The rules should not apply to live in-venue content or footage by the audience as this does not infringe any rights and is an integral part of fan culture.

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