The High Court has ruled that a company can only be held responsible for 'making available' internet-hosted material in the country where its host server is based, rather than in all countries where the data is seen or used.
On Wednesday, the court ruled that the law with regards to internet-hosted material should follow the laws applied to satellite television. "I have come to the conclusion that the better view is that the act of making available to the public by online transmission is committed and committed only where the transmission takes place," Justice Floyd, who presided over the court, said, according to court documents.
"It is true that the placing of data on a server in one state can make the data available to the public of another state, but that does not mean that the party who has made the data available has committed the act of making available by transmission in the state of reception," he said.
The ruling occurred in the case of claimants Football Dataco Limited, the Scottish Premier League Limited, the Scottish Football League and PA Sport UK Limited vs defendants Sportradar AG of Switzerland and its German subsidiary Sportradar GmbH. The claimants had accused the defendants of infringing their copyright and database rights by copying and publishing their own live football data on the internet under their company's name.
The defendants contended that, due to the location of their servers, the UK court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim against them. The allegedly copied data at the centre of the case — Sportradar GmbH's "Sport Live Data" — is stored on servers in Germany and Austria, according to the court documents.
In its reasoning, the High Court referred to the EU Directive on Satellite Broadcasting and Cable Re-Transmission, saying the laws for data provenance in this case should align with the broadcast industry. The broadcast laws define "the place where the act of broadcast occurs is where the signals are introduced under the control of the person making the broadcast into an uninterrupted chain of communications".
The judgement, which is part of a preliminary ruling in the case, also gave further detail on the liabilities of online publishers. The ruling stated that the defendants did have a case to answer on accusations of authorising copyright infringement. The case is ongoing.