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Uefa and ICC among sports rights holders demanding EU takes stronger action over piracy

Letter signed by 108 sports organisations and broadcasters urges legislative approach.

6 Oct 2022 Steve McCaskill
Uefa and ICC among sports rights holders demanding EU takes stronger action over piracy

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  • Premier League, Sky and Canal+ also among signatories
  • Letter calls on EU to adopt new laws to protect content
  • Piracy costs the industry US$28.3 billion each year

Some of the biggest sports organisations and broadcasters in the world have signed a letter, obtained by Politico, demanding the European Union (EU) does more to combat piracy of live events.

The 108 signatories, which include Uefa, the Premier League and the International Cricket Council (ICC), as well as Sky, Canal+ and Warner Bros Discovery, want the European Commission to pass legislation that would require telecoms providers to block access to pirated streams immediately after being notified.

They believe the current process is too slow, with many streams taken down after the event has concluded – by which time the damage has already been done.

A more urgent approach to takedowns, the letter argues, would protect content when it has the most value, safeguarding revenue streams and driving consumers towards legal methods of transmission.

The total cost of piracy to sports rights holders is US$28.3 billion each year, according to one study.

‘Piracy has and continues to drain Europe’s creative and cultural ecosystems, sports and live performance sectors depriving workers and industries from billions in annual revenues and undermining the sustainability of an essential part of our social and economic fabric,’ read the letter.

‘It is Europe’s duty to protect and promote its world leading creative and cultural workforce and industrial base as well as preserving consumers from the risks tied to piracy.

‘Any non-legislative instruments would be inadequate and insufficient to address the magnitude of the problem. Only a European wide regulation could provide an appropriate answer.’

There have been similar calls across the Atlantic, with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) arguing that existing methods to remove illegal streams and pirated content, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), were inadequate for the modern internet and for live events like sports.

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