But the EPL, and Sky, insisted the High Court ruling would not stop it taking action against pubs said to be breaking copyright law by showing games featuring protected works.
Lord Justice Stanley Burton ruled on February 24 that Murphy’s 2006 conviction for using a Greek decoder to show football should not stand.
The ruling was in line with the European Court of Justice judgement of October, which said action to stop foreign decoders being used was contrary to the “freedom to provide services “within the EU.
The issue, however, is separate to the screening of copyrighted works within broadcasts – itself subject to a different High Court ruling last month. In that case, (the Premier League v QC Leisure), Lord Justice Kitchin effectively ruled that publicans showing games featuring protected works – like the Premier League anthem or graphics – could breach copyright laws.
The Murphy and QC Leisure cases had been referred back to the High Court from the ECJ.
Sky said the Murphy ruling has no bearing on the High Court ruling that “the unauthorised use of the Premier League’s copyrighted material via foreign satellite systems is illegal”. “We will continue to protect our legitimate customers by supporting action against licensees who break the law,” a statement said.
Lawyer Andrew Nixon, sports group associate at Thomas Eggar LLP, said the Murphy ruling “must not be taken as carte blanche for publicans to show Premier League matches; far from it, in fact”. He explained the ECJ had ruled items like the graphics fell “within a category protected by copyright”.
Down south, it’s been reported that trade groups are advising publicans to not use foreign decoders until a there’s definitive ruling on copyright.