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Reds Away comment: A small victory for fans

When Reds Away came into being, we thought it useful to put United’s fixtures on the website.

And then we found out – to our horror – that, technically, this was illegal.

A company employed by the Premier League, charmingly called Football DataCo, got in touch to say we were doing wrong.

Its staff told us that we were effectively plagiarising their work by saying that United were playing City on a given day at a given stadium and warned us that, if we continued, we could face court action.

Puzzled, we looked into it.
It turned out the argument Football DataCo used was that, because it apparently took loads of effort to arrange the fixtures, that meant the fixtures themselves were technically intellectual property.

So, they said, unless you pay upwards of £300 a year for a licence, you couldn’t print the fixtures.

In fairness, the Premier League allowed each club to nominate one fanzine or website each season to print the fixtures for £1, but it was the principle of the subject that we just couldn’t understand.

In theory, I could sue my brother for Tweeting his friends about my dad’s birthday party – on the basis that it took me a lot of effort to organise the bash.

Unsurprisingly, we weren’t the only ones troubled by this bizarre logic and several parties challenged the crazy rule.

And last week, common sense prevailed and a court ruled that you can’t copyright fixtures.
Football DataCo now has this on its website:

Following the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union dated 1 March 2012 in Case C-604/10 Football DataCo Ltd v Yahoo! UK Ltd &Others, it has been determined that neither copyright nor sui generis database rights subsist in the EU in fixture lists for the English and Scottish football leagues.

Which, in normal speak, means they will leave websites and fanzines alone for printing their club’s fixtures.

I can kind of understand Football DataCo going after bookmakers and major news organisations, but for them to target fanzines and fan websites run by people doing it for the love of the game, was below the belt and yet another example of where modern-day football is going wrong.

That is why Reds Away is so delighted with this small victory for the fan on the street.

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8 comments to Reds Away comment: A small victory for fans