European Leagues Statement on European Commission Recommendation on live content piracy

European Leagues members welcome the Recommendation on combatting online piracy of live events but need a quicker review.

With the publication of the European Commission’s Recommendation, the European Leagues and its members welcome the first ever European initiative specifically focused on online piracy of live content. However, they feel that the 2.5-year review could transform it into a missed opportunity to address a crucial topic for Europe’s live content sector.

In the wake of the unprecedented difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the sports industry, now more than ever we need support to protect Europe’s cultural assets from blatant theft. Unfortunately, after years of campaigning to bring change and finally address the financial and operational damages created by online piracy of live sports content in Europe, the Commission’s Recommendation could exacerbate the illegal exploitation of the sector with the 2.5- year review clause.

Whilst the costs of online piracy have continued to grow year-on-year for the organisers of football and sports competitions and the whole live content sector, we still do not have an effective, legally binding instrument to challenge this ongoing drain on our sector’s resources. The European Leagues therefore calls on the European Commission to define clear KPIs and a robust monitoring system before the summer so the review of the effectiveness of its Recommendation can take place as soon as possible and subsequent steps are taken to create real change. Europe’s live football and wider sports events sector relies on the legal distribution of its content and its live nature is the basis of almost all of its value. If this cannot be protected due to a lack of sufficient legal remedies, the entire live content ecosystem could be further put at risk.

Professional football leagues across Europe wholeheartedly support the Commission’s desire to address the issue of illegal online piracy, but the Commission must go much further, much faster, if we are to see any concrete change. The European Leagues, together with the Sports Rights Owner Coalition (SROC) and the Live Content Coalition, are a partner in this fight and remain available to provide whatever support or data the EC may need to effectively carry out its work to help rid our Union of this scourge of criminal enterprise.

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