On 3 July 2018, the European Commission’s Sport Unit organised its second ever Sport Unit Breakfast, this time discussing the Digital Single Market (DSM) Initiative and its effect on sport.
Two speakers gave introductory presentations before a general discussion of the topic. Marco Giorello, Head of the Commission’s Copyright Unit (DG CONNECT), explained that the DSM initiative was one of the priorities of the Juncker Commission. He also described the perspective of sport broadcasting services in an EU law perspective, saying that they could entail audiovisual services and were subject to EU rules, but that, while they had clear parallels to copyright, sport events were not considered intellectual property. He also said that the current task was to balance the aim to facilitate better cross-border access with the model of territorial distribution. He referred in more detail to the current discussions on the new copyright directive, stating that it was a complex file. He also mentioned that the Commission would need to have a closer look at a JURI amendment giving sports rights owners a neighbouring right to protect against piracy in order to judge its impact.
Following this first statement, Mathieu Moreuil, representing the Premier League in Brussels and the Sports Rights Owners Coalition (SROC), explained the position of the sport sector, stating that intellectual property rights are the bedrock of the sport activities, as the income generated finances the sporting activities, including grassroots sport developments over solidarity mechanisms. He laid out that this basis was built on the territorial selling of licenses based on the local demand of broadcasters and different national interests, as well as a safe legal environment ensuring IPR and fighting digital piracy, and improving copyright protection for sport. Regarding the latter, he pointed to two points in the copyright proposal: a better answer to the value gap, meaning the mismatch between value earned by platforms using sport content and the value received by sport organisations, and a possible neighbouring right to better protect against digital piracy. Regarding the latter, Mathieu Moreuil stated that such a right, similar to what had been proposed for the press publishers by the Commission would lead to a harmonised protection of content EU-wide.
On Thursday of the same week, 5 July 2018, the European Parliament’s plenary finally voted on the JURI report for the copyright, deciding by by 318 votes to 278, with 31 abstentions to reject the negotiating mandate. As a result, Parliament’s position will now be up for debate, amendment, and a vote during the next plenary session, in September.