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£5.20 (€8.30) • ISSUE:88 • JANUARY 2012 •

It seems that football needs to put a bit more creative effort into

compiling their fixture lists if they want to be able to charge the industry for data rights.


Guinness recognises World Record slots payout


‘Peculiar’ fixture list copyright claims refuted


ootball’s hope to squeeze more money out of the betting industry has taken a blow after Advocate

General Paolo Mengozzi of the Court of Justice of the Euro- pean Union (CJEU) said that the sport’s fixture lists do not attract automatic intellectual property rights.

Providing a reasoned opinion on a case that had been referred for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU from the Court of Appeal of England & Wales, Mengozzi dismissed the claims of Football DataCo, and the English and Scottish football leagues that intellectual property rights under the Database Directive subsist in the annually-created fixture lists, adding: “I must also observe that, in the present case, the very idea of using copyright to protect football fixture lists

seems peculiar, to say the least.” The issue has found itself in the courts after Football DataCo initiated legal action against certain media and sports betting companies in the UK, including Yahoo! and Stan James, who had refused to pay fees for the alleged rights.

Clive Hawkswood, chief exec- utive of the Remote Gambling Association, welcomed the find- ings of the Advocate General: “Sporting bodies have attempted several times to use IP right argu- ments and the Database Direc- tive to extract significant funds from media and betting organi- sations. We hope that this opinion and the final CJEU ruling in this case discourages them from doing so again. Substantial revenues already flow from the betting industry to professional sports, for instance through sponsorship and joint ventures,

and those kinds of truly com- mercial relationships provide the best way ahead for the two sectors to co-operate together for their mutual benefit.” Mengozzi frequent cited

William Hill’s case against the British Horseracing Board back in 2004 where the European Courts found that sporting fix- tures did not attract an automatic ‘sui generis’ right. He also sug- gested that the sporting bodies are chancing their arm in pursu- ing a pure copyright through the Database Directive after their previous fixture list setback. He commented: “Recourse to the copyright now appears to be a ‘fallback’ solution prompted by the Court’s exclusion of ‘sui generis’ protection. Moreover, it is not even certain that, were protection under copyright available for football fixture lists, it would impede the

current activities of Yahoo and Others, which, as far as can be understood from the case file, appear to be confined to use of the raw data (the dates, times and teams for the various matches), and not the structure of the database.”

He added: “Copyright protec- tion is conditional upon the database being characterised by a ‘creative’ aspect, and it is not sufficient that the creation of the database required labour and skill.”

While it is not a given that the CJEU and the Court of Appeal will take the Advocate General’s stance on the matter, they are usually upheld in the final rulings of the court, which should be made sometime this year. The ruling suggests that, in the current format, sporting bodies have no right to charge firms to publish fixture lists.

been officially recognised as the largest jackpot payout in an online slots game by Guinness World Records. The record prize of 11,736,375 euro (£10,272,600) was won by a 20-year old Norwegian man on 24 September last year on Net Entertain- ment and were named as co-owners of the landmark payout record when it was confirmed by Guin- ness World Records in early November. Head of Huw Thomas commented: “It’s great for to be part of the record books but even better to be acknowl- edged for such a huge payout. We work extremely hard to deliver online enter- tainment with the biggest payouts and the fastest withdrawals. It’s a tremen- dous accolade for the site and we’re proud to be an Official Guinness World Record Holder.”


Mega Fortune is a progressive jackpot slot which is part of Net Enter- tainment’s jackpot network, pooling the liquidity of players from several of Europe’s largest online casinos. During the last year alone Mega Fortune has paid out over 26m euro to players around the world, including a 5.3m euro jackpot won in February. The offering of major jackpots has been a useful tactic for recruitment purposes for some time with many operators happy to enter progressive jackpot pools with rival companies in order to generate such big payouts with no liability to themselves. However, a pooled jackpot also means competing brands in the same network can offer the same high payouts.

prize won on Net Entertainment’s progressive jackpot slot, Mega Fortune on, has


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