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Piracy of live sports events

Fighting online piracy of live sports and music

Media sports rights is big money and online piracy is a big problem. The EU Commission has now adopted recommendations on how to fight commercial scale piracy of sports and other live events like concerts and theatre performances. Streaming services are expected to spend some USD 8.5 billion on sports rights this year, according to Ampere Analysis. 

“Commercial scale piracy is jeopardising the viability of our creative and sports industries. Especially in case of live events which generate most of their value during the real-time transmission”, says Commission VP Margrethe Vestager.

The Commission has adopted a recommendation on how to combat the online piracy. It encourages member states and other parties “to take effective, balanced and appropriate measures to fight unauthorised retransmissions of such streamings, in full compliance with fundamental rights and personal data protection rules.” 

The Commission says this will strengthen the competitiveness of the EU sport and creative industries.

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The Recommendation focuses on three main areas:

  • Building on the Digital Services Act, it stresses the importance of urgent action from providers of hosting services in order to minimise the harm caused by illegal streaming.
  • Encouraging the use of blocking injunctions tailored to live events and, in the case of live sports events, encourages member states to grant legal standing to sports event organisers to seek an injunction where it is currently not possible.
  • Recommending organisers and broadcasters to make their offers affordable and attractive.

“Cross-border cooperation between Member States is important in view of the nature of piracy, which takes place across borders”, the Commission says.

The recommendations include a monitoring system together with the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights (EUIPO Observatory). 

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“On the basis of this monitoring exercise, the Commission will assess the effects of the Recommendation on unauthorised retransmissions of live sports and other live events by 17 November 2025. This is also the deadline by which the Commission will evaluate the way the Digital Services Act interacts with other legal acts, including copyright legislation.” 

“The Commission will then decide whether additional measures are needed at EU level, in view of technological developments, as well as the evolution of distribution channels and consumption patterns.” 

The Commission says the recommendation follows up the European Parliament resolution on the challenges of sport event organisers in the digital environment adopted in May 2021.

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