Bloomberg News

Yahoo May Win Case Over U.K. Soccer Data, EU Court Aide Says

December 15, 2011

(Updates with Yahoo response in seventh paragraph.)

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Yahoo! Inc. may win a bid to access annual fixtures lists of the English and Scottish soccer leagues, an adviser at the European Union’s highest court said.

Soccer leagues can’t claim copyright protection for match schedules, Paolo Mengozzi of the EU Court of Justice said in a non-binding opinion today. The creation of soccer ficture lists is a “data creation activity” and not an “original intellectual creation.” The Luxembourg-based EU court follows this advice in a majority of cases.

“The effort expended in the creation of the data cannot be taken into consideration for the purposes of assessing the eligibility for protection of the database as such,” Mengozzi said in his opinion. Such a database can be protected by copyright “only if it is an original intellectual creation of its author.”

Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, California, and a number of betting companies who want to access the information, are at loggerheads with the soccer leagues over whether their lists’ data is protected by copyright. While Yahoo’s U.K. unit argued the data isn’t protected and can be published without payment, the English and Scottish leagues said they own the rights to the data on the annual fixture lists and can charge for its use.

A London court in 2010 ruled the data is protected by copyright under the EU’s database law. The case is now pending at the Court of Appeal in London, which last year referred the case to the EU court for guidance on the copyright protection in the lists.

Binding Ruling

Any ruling by the EU Court of Justice, which usually follows within six months of the opinion, will be binding.

Spokespeople in Yahoo’s London-based press office didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. The Premier League in London said it couldn’t immediately comment on the opinion.

The case is: C-604/10, Football Dataco Limited, Football Association Premier League Ltd, Football League Limited, Scottish Premier League Limited, Scottish Football League, PA Sport UK Limited v. Yahoo UK Limited, Stan James (Abingdon) Limited, Stan James Plc, Enetpulse APS.

--With assistance from Tariq Patel in London. Editors: Peter Chapman, Andrew Clapham

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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