Yahoo is sued over football fixtures
It was reported over this weekend that the powers that govern football in the UK namely the Premier League, the Football League and the Scottish Premier League are threatening Yahoo with court action accusing it of publishing the fixture lists without permission. By publishing the fixtures it is alleged that they are infringing their copyright and database rights. If they continued to do so they would seek an injunction to stop it and would claim unlimited damages.
The leading cases on the reproduction of football fixtures are British Horseracing Board Ltd and others v William Hill Organisation Ltd, Case C-203/02; Fixtures Marketing Ltd v Organismos prognostikon agonon podosfairou, Case C-444/02; Fixtures Marketing Ltd v Svenska Spel AB, Case C-338/02; Fixtures Marketing Ltd v Oy Veikkaus Ab, Case C-46/02, 9 November 2004.
In essence the Judgment means that organisations which themselves create the materials that form part of a database will not be able to rely on the database right as a means of legal protection unless they can show that, in addition to the investment made in creating the materials comprised in the database in the first place, they have made a further investment in the database which is independent of the resources used to create those materials.
Given the large sums incurred by BHB (around 4 million a year) and the English and Scottish Leagues (around 11.5 million ) in creating the materials that make up their databases, it seems highly unlikely in practice that they would ever invest further resources independent of that expenditure in such a way as to enable their databases to qualify for protection by means of the database right.
The effect of the ECJs judgment will therefore be to deny this form of protection to databases compiled by sports governing bodies and other organisations (for example, stock exchanges) who, as part of their functions, originate the data contained in their databases.