Premier League Hits a Road Bump In YouTube Lawsuit


The Premier League has hit a road bump in its lawsuit against YouTube.

In the Premier League’s claim, which was filed more than two years ago, it argued that YouTube was profiting from a knowing violation of its copyrights in the league and in footage of games in that league. Now, however, a US district judge has filed an opinion that the Premier League cannot claim statutory damages against YouTube for user-submitted video clips of non-live football matches, even if it proves that the site infringed its rights, because it failed to register its copyrights.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Premier League hadn’t registered its copyright in the United States. Registration is not required to secure copyright, but before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration with the US Copyright Office is necessary for works of US origin under Section 411(a) of the country’s Copyright Act, according to Out-Law News.


“We think this ruling is a throwback to draconian times,” said William M Hart, a lawyer with the Premier League’s New York-based firm Proskauer Rose. He said an appeal may follow because, while the ruling does not damage Premier League’s case, it sets what he described as an important but unfair precedent for non-US copyright owners “who are equally unaware of the need to register.”

The case is far from over, but it’s a definite step backward for the Premier League in its fight against YouTube.

According to the site,”The latest ruling in a copyright case brought against Google and its YouTube subsidiary doesn’t move the needle much on the core issue but it means the bill should be lower if—and that’s still a big if—the company loses in court.”

If you’re interested in reading the judge’s opinion regarding the Premier League’s claim, read the legal document below.

Premier League v Google

8 thoughts on “Premier League Hits a Road Bump In YouTube Lawsuit”

  1. Chris,

    Having read the opinion, I also get the impression that the Premier League cannot go after anyone in the US for other things (ie live match updates, live tweets, ect) as well.

    While those stories above tried to play nice with the Premier League, I don’t see how this ruling helps the Premier League. All it does is show how totally unprepared they truly were for global expansion of their product. The only thing that is a surprise to me is the judge did not throw the case out.

    1. I’m no legal expert by any means, but reading between the lines, I think the Premier League will go ahead in the US and copyright their live broadcast games moving forward which will give them the opportunity to come down hard on YouTube and YouTubers who break their copyright laws.

      As for live match updates and live tweets, you may be right.

      Anyone know any legal experts who can provide some sound analysis via the comments section here?

      The Gaffer

      1. interesting read, thanks for the link

        like the bit about showing TV listings not fixtures !

        seems nuts that they have this right over the fixture list, I wonder how legally watertight the whole thing is

        and live score sites – they’ll be on to them next at this rate

        come to think of it do they pay the fee to list the fixtures ?

        is it only the UK leagues that do this ? oes anyone know if are there similar restrictions for Serie A etc or even other sports ?

  2. If they did not register the copyrights (even if at the same time as filing suit) then they do not have grounds. This is correct. When pursuing such claims sometimes it is best to work with attorneys who have experience in International Copyright on both sides of the pond.

    I am saying this as one who, based in New York, practices Copyright law and is licensed in both the US and the UK with an LLM in International Intellectual Property law

  3. Well, I am a lawyer but not a copyright expert. Nevertherless, let me take a shot at this. The statute is explicit in requiring that a copyright be filed before an action can be commenced for an injunction and damages and no action can be maintained, just as Alexander points out. It would seem to offer little room for appeal and I’m quite frankly surprised that the firm of lawyers used by the EPL didn’t know better. I’m sure that the EPL uses a large corporate law firm with branches around the world and should have been able to pick up on that.

    However, that does raise a question that will undoubtedly get raised on appeal, although it is only a policy question and not one for the appellate court. Is this policy fair to non-Americans and is this a policy that is emulated in non-US jusridictions? Does the EU have a similar policy? is there a chance to take this before the World Trade Organization? I don’t know the answer here I’m just raising the question.

    For now, it would appear that the EPL is out of luck.

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