From Sat 2000
The UK Football Association are bullying UK publicans once again . The FA previously took UK satellite dealer Vision On to court in 1997 after being found to have in their possession smartcards and decoders capable of decoding Premier league football
broadcast by European satellite channels . The following is a letter received a few days ago from the FA.
For the Attention of: The Licensee
As you are no doubt aware, we organise the "FA Barclaycard Premiership". The majority of Premiership matches take place on a Saturday afternoon ("the Saturday Matches"). We do not show live coverage of the Saturday Matches in the
UK as to do so would contravene UEFA regulations which provide that television broadcasting of football in England is prohibited between 14:45 and 17:15 (local time) on Saturdays.
However, we have the right to exploit live television coverage of the Saturday Matches outside the UK. In accordance with our rights, we have Licensed the right to broadcast Saturday Matches outside the UK including but not limited to Scandinavia,
for inclusion in broadcasts intended for and licensed only for reception in those particular countries ("the Transmissions"). The Transmissions are by satellite television and are encrypted. They can only be viewed if the viewer has certain
satellite equipment. Therefore, apart from via agreed Broadcasters (BSkyB, ntl, On Digital and Telewest), the broadcast of all live Premiership matches on any day in the UK is prohibited. The possession of equipment which enables access in the UK to
broadcasts live Premiership matches (for example the Saturday Matches) is prohibited.
Our attention has been drawn to the fact that the match between Fulham and Liverpool was shown at The xxxxxxxxx on Saturday 2nd March 2002 at 15:00 to approximately 200+ patrons. Your conduct infringes our intellectual property rights which are
contained in section 298 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended by the Conditional Access (Unauthorised Decoders) Regulations 2000. These provisions give us rights and remedies against persons who, amongst other things, install,
possess or use any " apparatus or device designed or adapted to enable or assist persons to receive the programmes" (section 298(2)).
Our rights were upheld in the case of The Football Association Premier League Limited & Others v Vision On (Midlands) Limited , dated 5 July 1999, where it was decided by Mr Justice Jacob, that the "apparatus or device" described above
includes the "complete kit for the reception of Premier League football matches" and includes smartcards, decoders, satellite antenna and satellite receivers.
It has come to our attention that you are in possession of some or all of these goods, and you are therefore clearly infringing our rights. We are entitled to all the rights and remedies set out in section 298 and in particular, we are entitled to
the delivery up and seizure of the infringing goods against any person in possession of them (section 298(3)).
We therefore require an undertaking in the form attached herewith dealing with the following:-
1 . That you will not now or in the future show live Premiership matches (including the Saturday Matches) whether in part or in whole other than via a UK broadcaster authorised to broadcast live Premiership matches
2. That you will by 12:00 noon on Thursday 21st March 2002 deliver up to us any and all smartcards, decoders, satellite antenna, satellite receivers or any other equipment whatsoever which is or could be used to receive encrypted transmissions of
live Premiership Matches (including the Saturday Matches) other than via a UK broadcaster authorised to broadcast live Premiership matches
We require the undertaking by 12:00 noon on Thursday 14th March 2002 failing which our solicitors have been instructed to commence proceedings against you forthwith and without further notice.
Please sign, date and return the undertaking to us within the deadline specified above. A pre paid envelope is enclosed. We also draw to your attention that the possession of the equipment which enables you to view these matches may constitute a
criminal offence under section 297A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended by the Conditional Access (Unauthorised Decoders) Regulations 2000. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on conviction in the
Magistrates Court to a fine of up to £5,000 and on conviction in the Crown Court to imprisonment for up to 2 years and/or an unlimited fine.
Should you be in any doubt as to your legal position or if you do not understand the contents of this letter, or the undertaking sought, you should consult with your own legal advisers. We hereby expressly reserve all our rights, including the right
to make an application to court for interlocutory relief, and we reserve the right to produce a copy of this letter to the court on the question of costs.
For and on behalf of The F.A Premier League Limited