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Pub Manager Wins Battle Over English Premier League Broadcasts

The Sky Sports HD logo sits on display on the perimeter of the soccer pitch at Wigan Athletic Football Club in Wigan, U.K.The league started a three-year 1.8 billion-pound ($2.8 billion) U.K. television contract in August 2010, and receives a further 1.4 billion pounds from the sale of international broadcast rights. Photographer: Simon Bellis/Bloomberg
The Sky Sports HD logo sits on display on the perimeter of the soccer pitch at Wigan Athletic Football Club in Wigan, U.K.The league started a three-year 1.8 billion-pound ($2.8 billion) U.K. television contract in August 2010, and receives a further 1.4 billion pounds from the sale of international broadcast rights. Photographer: Simon Bellis/Bloomberg

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- A U.K. court overturned the conviction of a pub manager from Portsmouth who used a Greek decoder card to show English Premier League soccer matches.

The ruling by a High Court judge in London in Karen Murphy’s favor follows a similar decision by a European Union court last year. The court ruling still gives the League the right to prevent the unauthorized use of its copyrights by bars and clubs, the League said in an e-mailed statement today.

The Premier League, home to some of Europe’s most successful clubs including Manchester United and Liverpool, started a three-year 1.8 billion-pound ($2.8 billion) U.K. television contract in August 2010, and receives a further 1.4 billion pounds from the sale of international broadcast rights.

Murphy spent years fighting attempts to stop her from showing live soccer at her Red White and Blue Pub without a subscription to British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc’s Sky Sports. She spent 800 pounds a year on a Greek decoder card to show games rather than 700 pounds a month for a Sky package.

The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled last year that territorial licenses are “contrary” to competition law “if the license agreements prohibit the supply of decoder cards to television viewers who wish to watch the broadcasts.” While the court said anyone can watch such broadcasts, pubs can’t show the feeds via foreign decoder cards without the permission of the copyright owner, such as the broadcasters and the league.

“Unauthorized use gives rise to both civil and criminal penalties,” the League said in the statement. “Should Mrs. Murphy, or any other publican, use European Economic Area foreign satellite systems to show Premier League football on their premises without our authority and outside the scope of our authorization, they make themselves liable for us to take action against them in both the civil and criminal courts.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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