This week the High Court granted a fresh live blocking injunction to The Football Association Premier League for the 2018/19 season, as we discuss in this blog.
Towards the end of the 2016/17 Premier League Football season The Football Association Premier League Limited ("FAPL") brought an action against, although in reality approved and not contested by, BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media (the "Defendants"). The application and the subsequent order's purpose was to grant a 'live blocking injunction' to allow the blocking of illegal streams of Premier League matches as the matches are in progress for the last two months of the 2016/17 season (the "First Order"). Our blogs on the original Application and Order, and the new Order granted for the 2017/18 season (the "Second Order") can be seen here and here.
This week Mr Justice Arnold has granted a fresh order to FAPL for the 2018/19 season. Although the application was not opposed by the Defendants, the court had to be satisfied that the order was justified. The FAPL was able to provide evidence to show that the Second Order was very effective in blocking access to the target servers during Premier League matches. There was also no evidence found of over-blocking despite checks being undertaken.
The order sought by, and subsequently granted to, FAPL differs from the Second Order in two respects:
- The subset of infringing streaming servers to be blocked is enlarged; and
- The requirement to notify hosting providers is made subject to a short delay. This is to combat the attempts made to circumvent the Second Order, evidence of which was provided by FAPL to show this is a real concern.
On the basis of the evidence before him, Arnold J held that granting the order for a further season was justified. (No details of the evidence are provided in his short judgment.)
It appears that live blocking injunctions are here to stay provided FAPL can continue to provide evidence that they are working and that legitimate websites are not being blocked. It is also worth noting the court's willingness to expand and adapt the orders they are granting to encompass more servers and to defeat attempts to circumvent the order.
Now FAPL is into its second full season of operating live blocking injunctions we would not be surprised to see other sports organisations consider exploring their own live blocking injunctions to protect their investments and intellectual property, as was the case with UEFA in December 2017 (see our blog here).