Football bosses redoubled their efforts to crack down on pubs illegally streaming live matches as court cases involving the sport dominated copyright litigation last year.
The Football Association brought 39 cases to court last year, second only to PPL, the body music licensing body. The number of cases brought by the FA has increased over the last four years; just five cases were brought to the High Court by the sport’s authorities in 2013.
Lawyers say that the rise in football-related copyright litigation was driven by several recent landmark rulings against pubs and restaurants. The FA is understood to be trying to stem losses caused by viewers streaming matches illegally.
The City of London law firm RPC pointed out that viewing figures for Premier League games through some subscription services fell last season, with illegal streaming services likely to have played a part in the drop. BT and Sky, which both broadcast domestic football, were also among the top ten copyright litigants last year, bringing eight and six cases, respectively, in the High Court.
“The Football Association is tackling illegal streaming and underpayment of licensing fees with a robust litigation strategy,” Ciara Cullen, a partner at RPC, said. “And pubs are feeling the brunt of the challenge. Broadcasting companies which own the rights to certain games no doubt want football’s governing bodies to do a good job at protecting against unlicensed coverage in order to protect their valuable assets.”