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Pub landlord fined £65,000 for breach of football copyright

A pub landlord in Wales has been fined £65,000 for breaching the copyright of the English Premier League by broadcasting matches live using a foreign satellite card, reports the BBC.

Premier League football is big business for pubs and bars, with licences to show live games to a public audience selling for thousands of pounds.

Publicans and bar owners pay large sums to show live games in the knowledge that football brings in customers who then spend money on drinks and meals during the game.

However, as the cost of the licence to show games has increased, so many landlords have looked abroad to source cheaper satellite television options, which allow them to broadcast games on foreign channels for a fraction of the price.

The illegality comes because foreign satellite cards are for personal use only and should not be used to broadcast games in public areas such as pubs.

The English Premier League took landlord Anthony Luxton to court after he was caught broadcasting matches at his pub in Swansea. Mr Luxton used a Danish satellite card to obtain the coverage of Swansea matches which he played live at his Rhyddings pub.

Lawyers for the Premier League claimed that Mr Luxton was in breach of copyright because he showed live Premier League games issued by a Danish broadcaster. Their argument hinged on the fact the Premier League logo was prominently displayed on screen during the games.

They argued that the Danish satellite card was for domestic use only, and that by showing the games in his pub Mr Luxton had effectively communicated a copyright-protected communication without consent.

The Premier League sought a summary judgment, claiming that Mr Luxton had no defence and therefore a full hearing would be unnecessary.

The High Court judge Mrs Justice Rose took three hours to agree with the Premier League, ordering Mr Luxton to pay £65,000 in legal fees and issuing an injunction preventing him from showing more live games.

"Only Sky Sports and BT Sport are authorised to show live Premier League football in pubs in the UK and legitimate commercial subscriptions for use in pubs can be obtained from them," said a Premier League spokesman.

The Premier League said it was conducting its largest ever crackdown on illegal broadcasting of matches, and that this case was the first of 100 expected to be brought against pub and bar owners in the next few months.