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Showing TV, films and sports within a licensed premises

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02 August 2017: Changes to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 now mean that the showing of copyrighted films and television programmes in public require a Licence.

The circumstances in which a Licence is required will vary from pub to pub but in essence, if you have a television on in a bar or staff workplace and it is playing copyright material e.g. a televised film, documentary or drama then it will be necessary for you to obtain a Licence from Motion Pictures Licensing Company.

If however your pub television only broadcasts live sport or rolling news from channels such as Sky Sport, BT Sport, BBC News, Sky News or Channel 4 then no Licence is required.

In practice, because of the exemption that applies to televised sport and news channels, many pubs would not in the ordinary course of business require a Motion Pictures Licensing Company Licence however, great care will need to be taken to ensure that inadvertently televisions are not left on or switched over so as to broadcast copyrighted material.  Remember this applies in respect of staff work areas.

A Motion Pictures Licensing Company Licence would be required in addition to any Licences you may require from the BBC, Performing Rights Society (PRS), Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) or Sky/BT.

If, however, you genuinely feel that the only televised broadcast which will take place will be of sporting fixtures or of news, then a written policy should be prepared to confirm that this is to be the case in your premises.  You will need to brief all members of staff to ensure that they do not inadvertently change to a channel broadcasting copyrighted material.

Motion Pictures Licensing Company will be carrying out spot checks on premises to ensure that no copyright broadcast is taking place, much in the same way that Sky, PRS and PPL already carry out spot checks.

What is the cost fo a Motion Pictures Licensing Company Licence?

The cost of a Licence is not particularly high, £95.00 per year for a typical pub, although this could rise to £190.00 per year for larger establishments.

For further information, please contact Andrew Cochrane.

08 February 2017: The changes to Section 72 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 are as a result of legal action brought by the Football Association Premier League and hopefully will bring clarity to premises wishing to show premier league football to its customers.

What did Copyright Law allow before?

Section 72 used to allow organisations which don’t charge for admission to show television broadcast and any film contained in the broadcast with the permission of the copyright holder.  This Section led to some commercial premises attempting to rely on the exception to show exclusive subscription television broadcasts without paying for the required commercial Licences, often attempting to remove the created aspects of sports broadcasts by switching off the sound, placing cards over logos or using masking technology to obscure logos when showing premier league football.  This resulted in it becoming very difficult for copyright owners to take legal action to enforce the use of commercial subscriptions which distorted the market between pubs which paid for commercial subscriptions and those using cheaper unauthorised systems.

What does this change to Copyright Law mean now?

The change to Section 72 means that those wishing to show broadcasts in public may need to gain the permission of film rightsholders to show the film contained within a broadcast.  Separate Licenses may still also be required from PRS and PPL in relation to the music contained in a broadcast.

The change to Section 72 only affects the showing or playing of broadcasts in public by organisations and premises that do not charge an entrance fee.

Free to air channels tend not to charge commercial premises for showing television programmes to the public but pubs and other premises showing free to air broadcasts may need to check with broadcasters that they are permitted to show the films contained within a broadcast in the same way that they need to ascertain whether they have permission to show or play any other underlying works such as music.

Essentially the change to Section 72 has made the position clearer regarding pubs and other commercial premises requiring a commercial subscription to show exclusive subscription broadcasts.  In these cases, the commercial subscription acts as a Licence for example in the UK, Sky Sports and BT Sport are authorised to broadcast live Premier League games.

The law on showing television broadcasts to the public is the same for both commercial and non-commercial organisations, however, many copyright owners choose to permit non-commercial activity without a Licence at a reduced rate.

The main effect will be to act to make illegal those systems that use technology to block logos and themes.

For further information, please contact Andrew Cochrane.

14 February 2017: At the time of writing, the whole position remains unclear concerning licensees’ use of European satellite TV decoder cards to broadcast premier league matches.

Licensees will be familiar with the case of Karen Murphy and her successful battle last year with Sky TV before the European Court of Justice over her use of a foreign decoder card.

However, it now seems that Licensees are facing a new hurdle. Whilst the football game itself may not be subject to copyright, it seems certain aspects of a premier league broadcast may well be, including the premier league logo and theme tune.

This means that Licensees broadcasting matches and indeed importers of European satellite systems may well be in breach of those copyrights. This is not something Licensees can afford to ignore as the Premier League has already indicated its intention to resume action against Licensees who use European decoder cards to show live football.

There is undoubtedly an urgent need to resolve the position in UK Law as many Licensees and their advisors are struggling to understand where they stand.

A further ruling from the High Court is due towards to the end of this month so we will keep you updated.

For further information, please contact Andrew Cochrane.

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