A recent decision on how copyright laws apply to sporting events has implications for online journalists and citizen journalists. Here’s the key passage from a report in The Guardian:

“Fanned by the belief that third parties, including the media, are profiting from their events and the Premier League by contrast is losing revenues, the award of copyright protection would have enabled sports organisations to tighten their grip on their games and on the generation of original content (notwithstanding the challenges presented by the use of social media by fans). Sporting events being protected works would also have made it easier to pursue acts of infringement. That Murphy, who argued for the right to show Premier League football in her pub using a foreign decoder, may continue to be prevented from doing so due to the existence of protected works, such as Sky and Premier League graphics, theme tunes and logos, was the single crumb of comfort from a copyright perspective to come out of the judgment.”

And also:

“Had the ECJ [European Court of Justice] agreed that sport events attracted their own copyright protection, the impact could potentially have been devastating for newspapers and news agencies, and therefore for readers. We could have seen the monopolisation of certain traditional press formats; the ability to create still pictures being sold to the highest bidder in the same way as broadcast rights, leading to severe economic harm to picture agencies and the shift of absolute editorial control of picture coverage into the hands of sports associations; and further steps being taken on the road to the selling of “reporting rights”, ultimately fulfilling the long-term goal of the leagues to own and control all content emanating from their events. The result: censorship through the emasculation of independent viewpoints.”

As more sports clubs seek to make money from their own ‘performances’, expect this issue to continue to be contested, and watch for future decisions.