Peter Cadman and Matt Bosworth of the Regulation Department represented Media Protection Services Limited in the successful dismissal of an appeal brought in the Administrative Court of the High Court by a Portsmouth licensee, Karen Murphy.
Mrs Murphy had been convicted, in a matter prosecuted by Russell-Cooke, at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court for illegally showing foreign satellite broadcasts of Barclays Premier League football matches under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and already had her first appeal dismissed by Portsmouth Crown Court. The High Court appeal was heard before the Right Honourable Lord Justice Pumfrey and the Honourable Mr Justice Stanley-Burnton.
The appellant contested her conviction by stating that there was a separate and distinct broadcast from the foreign provider as opposed to the legitimate Barclays Premier League licensee British Sky Broadcasting Limited. Her legal team went on to argue that by paying a fee to a third party (not the foreign broadcaster but a company purporting to be their agents within the United Kingdom) that she could not be guilty of any offence under the CDPA 1988. They also argued that their approach was confirmed in the various Broadcasting and Conditional Access Directives from the European Community.
The Judges hearing the matter in the High Court gave their judgment on 21st December 2007 (sadly it was the last judgment handed down by the Right Honourable Lord Justice Pumfrey as he died on Christmas eve) and all arguments put forward by Mrs Murphy's legal representatives were flatly rejected by them.
The Court ruled that the CDPA 1988 was consistent with EC legislation and that the broadcast originated from within the United Kingdom. The Court went on to rule that prosecutions for showing Barclays Premier league football matches without having the correct agreement in place with the legitimate licensee were correctly brought as all such showings were illegal acts of dishonesty. The ruling confirms that broadcasters that use conditional access technologies to show sport content within the United Kingdom can do so in the knowledge that criminal statute, as well as civil, protects their Intellectual Property rights.
The appellant still has arguments in respect of free movement of goods and Competition law to put before the Court - some time in January/February of this year.