Study on sports organizers’ rights

On 24 April 2014, the European Commission published on its page the final report and the executive summary of the Study on sports organizers’ rights in the European Union, in which the Intellectual Property Institute acted as a rapporteur for Slovenia. The study was made under the consortium of the ASSER Institute and the Institute for Information Law – IViR.

The specific objectives of the study are:

– to map the legal framework applicable to the origin and ownership of sports organizers’ rights in the 28 Member States;
– to analyze the nature and scope of sports organizers’ rights with regard to licensing practices in the field of the media, taking into account relevant EU law provisions;
– to examine the possibility of establishing licensing practices beyond the media field, notably in the area of gambling and betting;
– to provide recommendations on the opportunity of EU action to address any problem that may be identified in the above mentioned areas of analysis.

In the great majority of Member States the rights of sports organizers are found in the general laws of property and contracts, which are not likely to be harmonized in the EU in the near future. By contrast, the laws on copyright and neighboring rights that provide for legal protection of the audiovisual recordings and broadcasts of sports events are almost completely harmonized. While the calls of the sports organizers for effective enforcement remedies are comparable to those of the traditional content and information industries, the case for expedient remedies is arguably somewhat stronger here, given the highly perishable media value of many sports events, which is usually exhausted immediately with the live coverage of the event. Regarding sport bets and gambling, the study recommends putting in place a centrally driven distribution system that allocates this revenue on the basis of transparent criteria, if Member States seek to secure a “fair financial return” from revenue derived from (commercial) betting or other gambling services to sport. A right to consent to bets could be considered as one of the available mechanisms to protect the integrity of sport from betting-related match fixing on condition that the demanding institutional and operational requirements necessary for its successful implementation can be satisfied.