High Court Blocks Illegal Live Streaming of Premier League Games 

September, 2019 - Davinia Brennan

 For the first time, the Irish High Court has been asked to make a blocking order in regard to the illegal live streaming of Premier League games. Instead of watching Premier League games through legitimate and licensed services, some people were seeking to do so free of charge. The Court granted the blocking order, requiring five Irish ISPs (including  Eir,  Sky Ireland Ltd, Sky Subscribers Services Ltd, Virgin Media Ireland Ltd  and Vodafone Ireland Ltd ) to block illegal live streaming of Premier League games.

 The  Court noted that it was evident from the decision in Sony Music Entertainment (Ireland) Ltd & Ors v UPC Communications Ireland Ltd [2016] that it has flexibility regarding the measures it may take to prevent copyright infringement.  Article 8(3) of the Copyright Directive 2001/29/EC and Article 11 of the IP Directive 2004/48/EC set out the legal basis for such orders. Those provisions respectively require Member States to ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright, or an intellectual property right.  In the Sony case, the Irish Court of Appeal set out the legal test blocking injunctions.  Whilst this test was set out in relation to music rights, the Court held that it was relevant in the instant case. That test requires the blocking order to be:

  1. necessary;
  2. that the costs involved are not excessive or disproportionate and the order itself should not be unduly complicated;
  3. that the cost sharing proposals are fair and reasonable;
  4. that the order respects the fundamental rights of the parties affected, including internet users; and
  5. that the duration of the order and the provisions for review are reasonable.


The Court held that, based on the evidence, it was necessary to make the blocking order; that absent any blocking order there would be continued abuse via illegal live streaming of Premier League games; and the blocking order was the most cost-effective remedy.  Whilst the Order was relatively complicated, it was logical with checks and balances, and no issue arose in relation to cost sharing.  In regard to duration, the court granted the blocking order until 30 June 2020 (expiry of the final match period for the current competitive season), with liberty for the Premier League to apply on or before that date to renew the blocking order for the next season.



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