An extremely important decision regarding the unlicensed streaming of Premier League matches was handed down by the Commercial Court on July 16, 2019, whereby Haughton J granted orders compelling internet service providers to crack down on illegal streamers.
The plaintiffs in this case, Football Association Premier League Ltd, are the eponymous parent company of the popular soccer league in the UK. They argued that, judging by the huge spike in Irish users accessing illegal streams in recent years, it is no longer a case of 'a student on a couch with a laptop' but a rather sophisticated criminal system so lucrative that it has led to CAB proceedings.
Counsel for the plaintiffs company adduced evidence which showed that 19% of adults surveyed admitted to accessing illegal Premier League streams. However, with the new blocking technology the plaintiffs will be able to take down streams within minutes of becoming aware of them. Part of the order sought was requested to remain private, as publication of such details could lead to the circumvention of the blocking technology.
This decision follows hot on the heels of the signing into law of the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019, which occurred on 26 June 2019. It will be interesting to see whether any of the provisions in this Act were determinative in the present case. However, the main innovation of this Act, being the extension of jurisdiction in certain copyright matters to the District Court and Circuit Court, is not operative here as the case was heard before the Commercial Court division of the High Court.
No written case report has been made publicly available at the time of writing. Once this becomes available through Bailii, a detailed case note will be posted here. In the meantime, see the Irish Times.
For further reading on the issue of copyright generally, see MHEIL.