|Germany: Football Association Fails to Prevent Clips of Games being Shown on Internet|
Klinkert Zindel Partner
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On October 28 2010 the civil division of the Federal Court of Justice held that the Württemberg Football Association could not prevent short video clips of amateur football games between its member clubs being made accessible to the public on the Internet. The full decision has not been published yet, but the court has issued a press release summarising the case.
The defendant operates an advertising-financed internet portal which can be accessed at 'www.hartplatzhelden.de'. Users can upload clips of amateur football games onto the portal. The clips can be up to 90 seconds long and can be viewed free of charge by other visitors to the portal.
The claimant football association, which organises the football games, considered itself to own the exclusive commercial exploitation rights to the games, given that it organised the games. As such, it asked the operator of the internet portal to cease publication of the video clips. The portal operator refused.
The Stuttgart Regional Court and Higher Regional Court ruled in favour of the football association. The latter court allowed a further appeal to the highest court in civil matters, the Federal Court of Justice.
Federal Court of Justice decision
In contrast to the lower courts, the Federal Court of Justice denied the Württemberg Football Association exclusive exploitation rights to the games played by its member clubs. In particular, the court held that the publication of the football clips on the portal could not be considered to constitute unfair imitation of another party's protected work. The court held that the football association could protect its rights to the commercial exploitation of games played by its member clubs by implementing rules to prevent visitors from shooting footage of the games. The court also rejected the argument that sport associations enjoy general and exclusive exploitation rights to the games played by their member clubs.
Once the grounds of this decision have been published, a fierce debate over its legitimacy and implications can be expected to ensue.
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Published on our website on Nov.30, 2010