Spain: FIFA suspends FC Barcelona transfer ban

By Ceyhun Pehlivan and Jorge Monclús

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee sanctioned the FC Barcelona for reported breaches about the signing of under-age players with a year-long transfer ban and significant fines last April 2 (please see our previous blog entry).

The Spanish club submitted an appeal before the FIFA Appeal Committee requesting the suspension of the sanction. The Appeal Committee has followed the FC Barcelona request and has suspended the transfer ban while the appeal is pending. The decision was taken by FIFA after considering the complexity of the matter and the fact that the Committee would not be able to hear the case early enough to permit a final appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport before the transfer window opens on 1 July.

The decision to suspend the transfer ban was welcome news in Barcelona, which would hence allow the club to sign players this summer.

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Privacy damages awarded to Weller family

 By Rebekah Hayes and Alasdair Muller

Associated Newspapers has been ordered to pay three of Paul Weller’s children a total of £10,000 in damages for misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act.

Covertly taken pictures of the musician on a day out with his children in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, appeared on Mail Online in October 2012. The High Court held that, although the pictures had been taken and published legally in America, their publication in the United Kingdom through Mail Online constituted misuse of private information, and consequently a breach of the Data Protection Act.

Weller, acting as litigation friend to his children, was required to show that: (i) in the specific circumstances of the case, his family had a reasonable expectation of privacy; and (ii) his family’s right to privacy could be sufficiently balanced against Mail Online’s right to publish the photographs.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

The judge held that, as the photographs were taken on a family outing, showed the faces of Weller’s children and were depicted alongside captions identifying them by surname, a reasonable expectation of privacy was established.

Balancing the Rights

The Wellers’ right to a private life was found to override Mail Online’s right to freedom of speech. There was no relevant debate of public interest to justify the publication of the photographs, and, although observing that it was not his role to interpret the Press Complaints Commission Editor’s Code of Practice (‘Code‘), the judge cited clause 6(v) of the Code, which provides “[e]ditors must not use the fame… or position of a parent… as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life”.

Associated Newspapers has announced that it plans to appeal the decision, the full judgement of which can be found here:

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UK / China co-production treaty signed

Earlier today, UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and Chinese Vice Minister Tong Gang of the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television, signed the long-awaited UK / China co-production treaty.

The new bi-lateral treaty will allow qualifying co-productions to access national incentives in both countries, such as the film tax credit in the UK.  Additionally, qualifying co-productions will not be subject to China’s quota system for foreign films, which currently only permits 34 non-domestic titles to be screened in Chinese cinemas on a revenue sharing basis each year.

To qualify for co-production status, a film will need to meet all of the requirements specified within the treaty and be approved by the competent authorities in the UK and China.  The main requirements for qualifying status are:

(i) the film must involve co-producers based in both the UK and China; and

(ii) each co-producer must contribute a percentage of the finance and production spend for the film from their respective countries.

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Survey launched on protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights outside the EU

By Patrick Mitchell and Chris Elliott 

The EU’s Observatory on Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights has launched a survey on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries. 

The survey, which runs until 10 June 2014, will collect information in order to identify difficulties encountered by EU entities in enforcing their IPR rights in non-EU countries and will be used by the European Commission in negotiations with third countries over better protection for EU entities’ intellectual property rights.  EU businesses and IP professionals are invited to participate – complete the survey here.  Please let us know if you would like to discuss.

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London’s IP Anti-Crime Unit shuts down leading sports file-sharing site

By Patrick Mitchell and Chris Elliott

The City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has successfully shut down the ‘Sports Torrent Network’, a leading sports file-sharing site offering its members links to sports events online. 

PIPCU was launched on 13 September 2013 (see our previous blog post) to “build a comprehensive UK policing response to the threat of online intellectual property crime”.  PIPCU focuses on tackling online piracy and has issued warning letters threatening to pursue action against owners and/or operators of websites committing criminal copyright offences (see Section 107 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988).  

The successful shut down of the Sports Torrent Network represents its most significant achievement to date.  It has previously closed smaller sports-related sites including and  It also has a number of other initiatives underway, including its Infringing Websites Lists. Following the recent Svensson (see our blog update here) and UPC Telekabel (see our blog update here) CJEU decisions, in the context of linking/aggregator services, this recent PIPCU initiative provides an additional “route to remedy” for rights holders whose intellectual property is being used without authorisation.

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IPO Guidance on Copyright Reforms

By Oliver Kichenside and Alasdair Muller

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has published guidance for copyright owners and consumers which outlines certain changes to current copyright law due to come into force on 1 June 2014.

The guidance relates to forthcoming changes which are designed to allow use of copyright works for a range of purposes deemed economically and/or socially valuable without having to obtain permission from the relevant rights holder. The new exemptions include: (i) the right to make personal copies of copyrighted works (such as CDs, books or films) for private use; (ii) the right to use copyrighted material for caricature, parody or pastiche; and (iii) an expansion of the right to fair quotation from a copyright work provided that the use is fair and the source of the quotation is acknowledged.

The changes are intended to implement the recommendations in Professor Ian Hargreaves’ 2011 report, Intellectual Property and Growth, which provided that the government should “firmly resist over regulation of activities which do not prejudice the central objective of copyright, namely the provision of incentives to creators” and “deliver copyright exceptions at national level to realise all the opportunities within the EU framework”.

The guidance notes can be found here:

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Spain: Football player sentenced to prison for personal injury

By Ceyhun Pehlivan

The Criminal Court of Vigo sentenced a local football player to 4 months imprisonment for a personal injury offence which occurred in a football game in Vigo, a city situated in north-west Spain.

The offence was committed by the convicted football player who pushed his competitor against the advertising hoardings. As a consequence, the competitor hit his head on the steel pole of the billboard and subsequently suffered from serious skull injury and an open wound on the front.

The Judge decided that this conduct was committed with the “intention of undermining the physical integrity of the competitor” and it constitutes a criminal offence punishable under Spanish Criminal Code.

In addition, the Judge ordered the football player to pay to the victim €1,210 to compensate for damage suffered as a result of the offence.

This is a pioneer court ruling in Spain, which opens the door to criminal liability for sports injuries.

The decision may be appealed to the higher court, Audiencia Provincial.

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California Federal Court Finds that the First Amendment Does Not Preclude Sporting Event Participants from Asserting Right-of-Publicity Claims Against Broadcasters

By Matthew Ganas

On April 11, 2014, a California federal court issued a First Amendment ruling that has potentially significant implications for broadcasters in the sports-media industry.  Specifically, the Northern District of California’s Judge Claudia Wilken held that “the First Amendment does not guarantee media organizations an unlimited right to broadcast entire college football and basketball games” “without regard for the participating athletes’ rights of publicity.”  Order at 19, 16, In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation (“In re NCAA”), Case No. 09-1967 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 11, 2014), ECF No. 1025.  

Led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, a group of class plaintiffs in In re NCAA (the “Antitrust Plaintiffs”) allege that defendant National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) has violated federal antitrust laws by administering rules that prevent former and current Division I football and basketball players from licensing their names, images and likenesses for commercial purposes.  The court’s recent ruling came in response to NCAA’s cross-motion for summary judgment, which sought dismissal of Antitrust Plaintiffs’ “live broadcast” liability theory on First Amendment grounds.  The court found that the First Amendment does not preclude any of Antitrust Plaintiffs’ claims as a matter of law and has scheduled trial to commence on June 9, 2014.  Read the rest of this entry »

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FA Proposes Global Ban on Gambling

 By Alasdair Muller and Patrick Mitchell

The FA has proposed amendments to its rules on gambling which, if approved by its shareholders at their AGM on 21 May, will come into effect from the start of the 2014-15 season. The amendments have already received recommendation from the FA Council and the Football Regulatory Authority.

The revised rules would introduce a world-wide ban on players and other participants involved in the top eight tiers of the English league system from betting on the outcome of football matches and competitions, or on any other “football-related matter”, including the transfer of players, employment of managers and team selections.

This represents a significant extension to the FA’s current rules, which prevent players and other participants betting on matches or competitions in which they are involved (or over which they have a degree of influence), or on “football-related” matters concerning any club which competes in the leagues in which, in the relevant season, the relevant participant is involved.

This proposed new “global” approach would be comparable to the position adopted by, for example, the British Horseracing Authority. The BHA’s rules prohibit riders and other participants in racing from making bets on horseracing, “regardless of where the bet is placed or where the race is run”.

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Football rights guidelines approved by Agcom!

Further to the preliminary inquiry carried out by the Italian Communication Authority (Agcom) with operators holding a direct interest in the sale of media rights for the Italian football seasons (as discussed here), yesterday the Authority approved the guidelines issued by the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Seria A (hereinafter “Lega Nazionale”) for seasons 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018. Read the rest of this entry »

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