European Parliament calls for stop live broadcasts of illegal sports in real time

Online service providers should be obliged to remove or immediately stop illegal live broadcasts of sporting events such as football matches or motor racing. The European Parliament calls for a corresponding law in a report approved on Tuesday. A corresponding stream must be stopped no later than 30 minutes after receiving a corresponding notification from the rights holders, for example. Even “trusted whistleblowers” should be allowed to have live broadcasts removed without a court order and legal clarification of the facts.

For the initiative, 479 deputies voted, 171 against, 40 abstained. Parliament is therefore also campaigning for the particularly controversial instrument of mandatory Internet blocking by Internet service providers, including “dynamic” blocking orders. This would allow the industry to expand the blacklist without judicial review. An arbitrary or disproportionate blockade of legal content should be avoided.

By a narrow majority, representatives made an amendment to the Legal Committee’s original proposal. In order to block illegal content, legal content should not be blocked on the same server. Parliamentarians generally reaffirm that the existing rules for notice and delete procedures under the “Notice and takedown” procedure under the Digital Services Bill (DSA) should be standardized.

The requirements must be proportionate, stress MEPs in view of startups and small and medium-sized enterprises. It should be possible to appeal a blocking decision, for example to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and personal data. Legal sports broadcasts should be better advertised and easier to find online for consumers.

Parliamentarians call on the European Commission to improve the existing framework for the enforcement of intellectual property rights for live sporting events in order to do justice to the special nature of such broadcasts. This is particularly important because the exploitation of broadcasting rights is an important source of income for event organizers. EU law does not yet provide for special protection for the latter. During the debate on the new copyright directive, the Legal Affairs Committee had already insisted that ancillary copyright should apply to sports broadcasts.

Parliament’s scientific service previously found in a study that “piracy of online sports broadcasts is a problem in the EU”. In 2019, 7.6 million subscriptions were concluded for illegal streaming platforms in the EU. This would have generated illegal revenue of around 522 million euros and led to an annual VAT evasion of 113.5 million euros.

“The problem with the existing measures is that the application is too late,” said rapporteur Angel Jambaski of the right-wing group of conservatives and reformists. Streaming providers and platform operators should be held responsible for unauthorized broadcasts of sporting events, not fans and consumers “who often unintentionally stumble upon illegal online content”.

“The greed of the sports lobby has prevailed and a demand for radical measures,” complained the negotiator of the green parliamentary group, Patrick Breyer. The instruments involved would be largely ineffective, but due to the threat of overlocking, they would be detrimental to fans and users. The Pirate Party member sees fundamental digital rights at risk and hopes “that these draconian demands will never be implemented.” The Commission should know better and not thwart its DSA proposal. Depending on the local form of copyright, streams of sporting events may be blocked directly by download filters.


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