Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Watching sports is "socially important", rules judge

I spotted this case while travelling and forgot to finish writing it up. It's an action brought by the (English) Premier League in Israel to close down a pirate website that was showing live football matches free of charge. The league sought to force Israeli ISP Netvision and web portal Nana to reveal the identity of the Israeli owner of LiveFooty.org, a website which used servers based in that jurisdiction to stream live footage of Premier League matches for nothing.

Tel Aviv District Court judge Michal Agmon-Gonen held that this was an instance of "fair use", since no profit was made from the broadcasts and, under Israeli law, infringement of "broadcasting" copyright only applied in respect of cable or wireless transmission, but not streaming over the internet.

The site, added the judge, 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", accepting that those who view online were not damaging the revenues of broadcasters but primarily "those of small means or who are not sufficiently interested in sport to pay".