European Commission to stamp down hard on illegal streaming of sporting events
The European Commission (EC) has stated it is proposing to stamp down on the illegal streaming of sporting events with a new 30 minute warning system.
In a report adopted on Wednesday, MEPs set out proposals to crack down on the growing phenomenon of illegal broadcasting of live sporting events.
To help combat the problem, MEPs called on the Commission to clarify and improve the current EU framework on intellectual property rights for live sport events, currently not subject to copyright protection, and to introduce specific provisions regarding the rights of sport event organisers, for whom licensing of broadcasting rights are a key source of income. Some member states, however, have introduced specific legal protection from which organisers can benefit.
“Today the European Parliament has sent a strong signal to the European Commission to propose regulations that oblige service providers to withdraw the illegal broadcast of sporting events (within a maximum of 30 minutes from being notified) and create a European system of reliable whistleblowers based on common criteria”
According to MEPs, existing rules need to be adapted to address the specific short-term value of live sport events and concrete measures should be introduced to ensure the immediate removal of illegal content, under effective safeguards.
Given that illegal streams are most harmful in the first thirty minutes of their appearance online, the text calls for such streams to be removed or disabled immediately and no later than thirty minutes following a notification by rights holders or a certified “trusted flagger”.
In a statement on the proposal, LaLiga commented: “We are pleased that the European Parliament has shown its commitment to the establishment of clear legislation to help against the scourge of audio visual piracy. Today the European Parliament has sent a strong signal to the European Commission to propose regulations that oblige service providers to withdraw the illegal broadcast of sporting events (within a maximum of 30 minutes from being notified) and create a European system of reliable whistleblowers based on common criteria.
“Behind audio visual piracy are clandestine organisations which profit from the content generated by others, thus causing job losses, black money that does not generate taxes and irreparable damage to content creators. LaLiga will continue to fight through the courts and also through technology, putting all our cutting-edge technological innovations at the service of legitimate content creators. We will also continue to collaborate with European and national institutions so that this historic resolution crystallizes in a European regulation that helps all European sport.”
LaLiga already shares its content protection tools with organisations such as the Ministry of Culture and Sports, MotoGP ️ and WorldSBK, Sky Sports México and the Jupiler Pro League of Belgium.
MEPs also reiterated the importance of hosting platforms acting swiftly to remove content and call for an EU system establishing common criteria for certified “trusted flaggers” to be introduced, as well as further harmonisation of procedures and remedies in the future Digital Services Act and in other sector-specific proposals.
Injunction procedures to remove illegal sporting events must avoid arbitrary or excessive blocking of legal content, insisted MEPs. Enforcement measures should be proportionate and include access to judicial remedies, in particular for small businesses, SMEs and start ups.
The liability for illegal broadcasts should lie with the providers of sport streams, and not with the fans or consumers, clarified MEPs.
The report was adopted with 479 votes in favour, 171 against and 40 abstentions.
The rapporteur, Angel Dzhambazki, (ECR, BG) 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.”