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Premier League Sues YouTube

premier league logo Premier League Sues YouTube

This Premier League filed a lawsuit this afternoon against YouTube in a New York court alleging that “[YouTube] encourages massive copyright infringment on its Web site to generate public attention and boost traffic. This has resulted in the loss of valuable content.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that the “Defendants, which own and operate the Web site YouTube.com, have knowingly misappropriated and exploited this valuable property for their own gain without payment or license to the owners of the intellectual property.”

Of course, this is all about money. The Premier League feels it needs to protect its rights and keep its current rights holders content. Having highlights of Premiership football matches on YouTube is illegal, and the Premier League wants to do everything it can to control the content so it can make huge amounts of additional revenue in the future.

However, there are two schools of thought regarding videos on YouTube. Do you protect your rights and sue as Viacom also did? Or do you promote the distribution of the content on YouTube thinking that it does more good than harm?

The Premier League’s track record thus far is to sue.
You may remember that in October, a company named NetResult (who was hired by the Premier League) sent a letter (essentially a cease and desist notice) to popular web site 101greatgoals.com demanding that they remove the video footage clips. However, 101greatgoals.com wasn’t hosting the videos. It was, and continues to do so, just linking to clips at YouTube. The Premier League finally wised up, as witnessed today, that it needs to stop the problem at its source, which is YouTube and its owners, Google.
The decision taken by the Premier League today is shortsighted and reflective of how clueless they are about the Internet. If YouTube decides to stop showing video highlights of Premiership matches, there are tens if not hundreds of other sites that the Premier League will need to sue also. The whole viral nature of the Internet is practically impossible to govern, so instead of sueing companies, the Premier League should be embracing it. Sure, lose money in the short-term on the video highlights. But in the long term the FA Premier League could gain more revenue and a greater worldwide appeal by allowing new fans to watch the videos thereby attracing new legions of fans (and revenue).

In contrast, instead of suing YouTube, many leagues such as the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and teams such as the Premier League’s own Chelsea, have embraced YouTube and created their own channels on the web site.

On the pitch, the Premier League is ahead of the other leagues, but off the pitch and in the world of the Internet, the league is clueless.

The lawsuit is part of a class action suit filed by the Premier League and an indie music label. Their press release can be read here, and the entire class action suit document can be found here.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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5 Responses to Premier League Sues YouTube

  1. Blue Blooded Journo says:

    I wonder if they ever thought that the brief clips shown on youtube actually advertises the EPL in the vastly untapped american sports community and will lead to larger and larger tv deals down the line? That will offset the $40,000/yr it would take to hire someone to browse the site looking for blatant violations like every other big media outlet does.

  2. Charles says:

    This is infuriating. It’s hard enough to get access to anything from England out here, and I find it hard to believe that being able to see great goals and other exciting stuff will dampen my interest in the sport or the EPL.

  3. Ahmed says:

    you’ve got it wrong mate.

    the source isn’t YouTube (or DailyMotion or MetaCafe) – those are just the mediums.

    The real sources are the free live streams from which people cap goals and then share those vids in forums, and then those get uploaded on sharing sites.

    It’s tougher to go after the streams, especially the Chinese ones, but it’s a f’n embarrassment that the PL has to resort to lying and whining about it.

    The easiest thing for the Premiership would be to start putting up highlights packages on their own site – for a fee of course. Make it legit and a lot of the ‘dirty’ sharing will go away.

  4. The Gaffer says:

    Valid point Ahmed.

    In discussions with a company that had seen the Premier League’s RFP for their upcoming redesigned web site which may launch in time for kick off, video or video highlights wasn’t part of the new site. No surprise there unfortunately.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

  5. Pingback: Lawyer Don Hecker Announcement » Premier League Launches Official iPhone App

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