Whilst on the fringe of Broadband news this is of general interest
The EU caught ruling now means exclusive TV Football rights deals are no longer possible
The European Court of Justice said an exclusive system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches in different EU countries - effectively stopping fans watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other member states - is "contrary to EU law".
But the verdict also warned: "The screening in a pub of football-match broadcasts containing protected works requires the authorisation of the author of those works."
Such "protected works", said the judges, could include the opening video sequence or the Premier League anthem, which is a matter for copyright.
The judges said that, in trying to justify its restrictions, the Premier League could not claim copyright over Premier League matches themselves, as such sporting events could not be considered to be an author's own "intellectual creation" and, therefore, to be "works" for the purposes of EU copyright law.
Even if there was such copyright protection for sporting events, banning the use of foreign decoder cards "would go beyond what is necessary to ensure appropriate remuneration for the holders of the rights concerned", the judges went on.
"A system of exclusive licences is also contrary to EU competition law if the licence agreements prohibit the supply of decoder cards to television viewers who wish to watch the broadcasts outside the member state for which the licence is granted," they said.
The verdict could mean a major rethink by the Premier League of its current exclusive agreements with Sky Sports - which provides the League with most of its television income - and ESPN