British sports audience, Waqas Rasheed, found himself in deep legal trouble for inadvertently streaming live, popular Premier Leagues between March 3, 2017, and April 1, 2017. European satellite TV broadcaster Sky Sports which has the contract to telecast Premier League Matches such as Arsenal vs. MU has sued Rasheed for infringing its copyright. On Wednesday, British courts found Rasheed guilty of willful infringing of Sky Sports telecasting copyrights and fined $60,000(45,000 pounds) for sharing two channels of Sky Sports on IPTVdonations.com, a subscription streaming site.
Sky Sports Battlegrounds
This was not the first time that Sky Sports has to deal with infringements with an iron hand. In the past too, Sky has battled against giants such as start-ups to Social media networks from publishing events of which Sky held copyrights. Sky Sports has even been successful in persuading English Courts to issue orders to internet service providers to stop live-streaming of matches which are illegal, by blocking such servers.
For Sky TV, individual players and small start-ups are a light legal battle to handle. It has larger behemoths to handle in the coming months. Though Sky TV collaborates with Twitter on its live coverage; it remains wary of other networks. The most likely challenge to its sports telecasting services is likely to emerge from Facebook, according to Sky Sports Insiders. In the past, Facebook has been vague and even dodged questions in relation to sports events and the likely opportunity to stream online. Facebook’s attempts to deflect direct queries in this regard, may indicate its intention to bid for future games streaming, like the EPL games.
Sky sports cannot be disregarded for its strong stance against casual streaming of sports events. The European giant has won these rights only after making very expensive investments in winning exclusive rights from professional leagues and clubs for their games.
Embattled Sky has found some support from media and sporting fraternity. A British organization, Federation Against Copyright Theft, which focuses on intellectual property rights reiterated Sky’s legal position. CEO of the organization, Kieron Sharp said, “You are breaking the law… if you are accessing content for free that you’d usually pay for, or you’re creating the streams online to allow others to do so.”
The British court’s ruling on Wednesday has thus allowed Sky to reiterate its control on content it holds legal rights for the telecast. Premier League matches are one of the highest revenue grosser for most sports broadcasting channels, and when audience generate illegal avenues to view the same content, free of cost, Sky Sports will have to bear the losses. Thus, the high fine imposed on Rasheed for the illegal telecast of copyrighted sports matches is indeed a point which clearly sets a precedent for future right owners’ as well.
If Sky TV had not taken legal steps to block such content pilferage, there is room for further illegal avenues to arise, misusing available advanced technologies. SkyTV’s battle with non-payers of content has been long-drawn, and hopefully, Wednesday heavy fines will dissuade such attempts in the future.