Ever since the well known Murphy case publicans have been prosecuted and received hefty fines for using foreign decoder cards and breaching Sky’s copyright.

A change to the law last year made it clear that if a pub shows an unauthorised foreign broadcast of a Premier League match then this is a breach of copyright.  Even if logos are removed and music muted it is now the broadcast of the match itself which breaches copyright.

The only legal way to screen Sky sports in the UK is via an agreement with Sky Business.  Screening sport through another source (e.g. a foreign decoder card) will infringe Sky’s copyright.  Equally screening broadcasts in a pub using a domestic Sky agreement is illegal.

Sky has always said that it is committed to protecting the business of those publicans who pay their subscriptions and broadcast legally.  It continues to prosecute those it finds violating the law or in breach of agreements with Sky.

Two cases heard last month will provide a timely reminder to publicans and hoteliers.  In Warrington a fine of £766 was imposed and £1,500 in prosecution costs and in the Wirral in the same week a fine of £550 was ordered with £2,000 prosecution costs.  Publicans should take note that not only are fines for this offence unlimited but they will also incur prosecution costs and risk having their licence suspended or revoked if the prosecution is successful.

The law is clear and awards of damages for breach are high. 

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.