Watching Streaming Sports Games Online is Fair USE!

Pardon the legal interruption, however a court in Israel has just handed down a pretty remarkable ruling. LiveFooty is an Israeli company that broadcasts live soccer games. The Premier League sued them because they make money by issuing licenses to broadcasters for the rights to the games.

“Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen said that the website owner “has shown both that the site served an important social purpose, and that its activity is not among the core activities copyrights are meant to protect. This core, the judge said, includes prose, movies, music and artistic photography“.

The judge went even further in explaining the rationale for it’s holding:

“The judge, Michal Agmon-Gonen, furthermore ruled that the site had important social aims — “watching sports events is socially important and should remain in the realm of mass entertainment, and not just be for those who can afford it” — and argued that those who view online were not damaging the revenues of broadcasters. She said they were mainly “those of small means or who are not sufficiently interested in sport to pay”.

The Judge didn’t stop there either. Part of the claim was that the owner of the website had to be revleaed. The court rejected that claim as well!:

“Someone who claims breach of copyright must meet two conditions. The first is to present prima facie evidence of a breach, that will lead with a high degree of probability to proof of it. Secondly, the breaches claimed must be especially severe, wrongs committed in aggravated circumstances,” the judge said. This is because “unintentionally, millions of people infringe copyright every day; there are no grounds for disclosing their identities in such cases, but only when it is a matter of blatant and severe infringement.”

Now what does this mean? Well for one thing you can bet on appeals. However it does raise a point, should we the public be able to see for free on the internet that which is carried elsewhere on television? The result when we aren’t legally able to do so is that we as a society find ways around that problem. I think the Judge’s rationale is extraordinary. I love the public interest/right and important social right to watch sports being more important than the actual copyright itself. That is not very usual to see these days.

This will a good one to watch. For now let them watch their football

you can read more here

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mike
mike
October 22, 2009 3:39 pm

i’m not sure i agree with this ruling, especially given that most major leagues now offer their own streaming services. as someone who uses atdhe.net, justin.tv, sticktv.net and the like i know that i am getting for something for free which i could pay for. my suspicion is that this will eventually go the way of hulu, with leagues offering an ad-supported free version of their streaming services.

the public good argument is pretty weak given that lots of sporting events are on free tv, and it is easy to find a bar showing any significant sporting event.

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