13 March 2018

Sports and music bodies account for most copyright cases High Court

Copyright disputes from sports and music rights holders continue to flood the High Court whilst Sky and BT are also top litigators.

Sports and music copyright cases dominate the High Court, according to findings by law firm RPC. All three of the most frequent claimants last year were sport and music bodies. Top of the list was the PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) which brought 88 cases to the High Court in 2017. The PPL was followed by the Football Association with 36 cases and the Performing Rights Society with 19 cases. Partner Paul Joseph says: 'Protecting copyright continues to be a top priority for those holding the rights to music and football. As the value of football broadcast rights has ballooned over the last two decades, so has the importance to rights holders of protecting their intellectual property.'

Streaming services

Sports rights holders Sky and BT were the other two of the Top 10 most frequent claimants in the High Court - with 12 and 11 claims respectively. RPC says that the clampdown by football and music rights holders includes cases being brought against pub and restaurant companies and individuals which sometimes do not pay a full licence fee or are using illegal streaming services. Furthermore, the internet has upended the music industry’s business model, making it more essential for the industry to pursue any possible source of revenue from businesses using their material. As a result, litigating against those not paying in full for copyrighted material has become an increasingly popular option for the music industry and its artists to maximise revenues. Commenting, partner Ciara Cullen said: 'As well as to capture lost revenue, rights holders will hope their presence in the High Court sends a strong message to deter future illegal streamers.'