By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Sports events organisers such as Sky, Canal+ and FIFA should be allowed to secure injunctions against online piracy of live events, the European Commission said on Thursday, following calls from companies for action against a problem that costs them billions of euros annually.
The non-binding recommendation from the EU executive however falls far short of broadcasters and events organisers’ calls for binding legislation.
“The Recommendation encourages the use of blocking injunctions tailored to live events and, in the case of live sports events, encourages member states to grant legal standing to sports event organisers to seek an injunction where it is currently not possible,” the Commission said in a statement.
It also urged providers of hosting services to take measures to minimise illegal streaming and events organisers to boost the availability and affordability of their commercial offers to attract viewers.
The recommendation also calls for cross-border cooperation between EU countries to tackle the issue.
Europe accounted for 45% of the more than 357 million daily visits globally to audiovisual piracy sites in 2020, the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) said earlier this year.
It cited research from Synamedia in 2021 and Ampere Analysis which estimated a 26 billion-euro ($28.76 billion) loss to sports rights holders due to piracy.
Lobbying group Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe (ACT), whose members include Sky, Canal+, NBCUniversal, RTL and Mediaset, was scathing about the recommendation.
“This essentially allows the present Commission to deliver little to nothing on this issue (despite a clear Parliamentary mandate to do so) before the end of this mandate,” ACT Director General Gregoire Polad said in a statement.
He said it also made it “very improbable for the next legislature to have the required time to adopt hard legislation if the recommendation is deemed inadequate”.
The Commission said it would set out key performance indicators before the summer to monitor the impact of its suggestion before deciding on additional measures in the coming years.
($1 = 0.9039 euro)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Christina Fincher)
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