Wednesday, 2 March 2011

PUB LANDLADY FACES FIFTH SKY FOOTBALL PROSECUTION

A pub landlady is facing her fifth prosecution for showing Premier League football through a foreign decoder.

Danielle Collins, who runs the Velvet Bar in Broad Street, Birmingham, faces prosecution by the Media Protection Services for showing an Albanian broadcast.

Miss Collins has previously been prosecuted by the MPS and the Federation against Copyright Theft after being accused of screening matches on foreign channels without paying Sky TV which has exclusive rights to show top flight games in the UK. It will be her fifth prosecution in less than four years.

Most prosecutions are brought under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which makes it a criminal offence for a person or company to receive a programme with the intention of avoiding an applicable charge.

Miss Collins’ solicitor Nama Zarroug, Head of Crime at leading law firm Kirwans and a specialist in cases of this kind, has won all four previous cases for Miss Collins.

And Miss Zarroug says a ruling last month by Advocate General Julie Kokott at the European Court of Justice that such prosecutions breached EU single market rules will dramatically help pubs such as the Velvet Bar if it is made binding later in the year.

Miss Zarroug said: “It is nothing short of ridiculous that Miss Collins now faces her fifth prosecution having previously been cleared on key evidential issues. The ruling by the European Court of Justice is a terrific breakthrough for hard-working publicans across the UK and the sooner it is made binding the better.

“Should the court ruling be adopted later this year it will be a huge blow to Sky and Rupert Murdoch who have been locked in an ongoing battle with publicans over illegal broadcasts.

“At the moment because of its exclusivity, Sky can charge publicans exorbitant fees for the rights to show live Premier League games. For many landlords, there will be savings of as much as £12,000 a year.

The Advocate General made her ruling on February 3rd after hearing the case of Portsmouth landlady Karen Murphy who said that her conviction for breaching copyright laws by using a Greek decoder should be overturned.

Miss Murphy said she had been through “five and a half years of hell” but pursued her case to the European Court of Justice because she felt strongly that “we shouldn’t be dictated to about what we pay and where we buy it from”.

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