Licensee loses appeal over showing Sky illegally


sky sportsThe failure of a licensee’s appeal against a conviction for showing Sky Sports illegally in his bar serves as a warning to the trade, according to Sky Business.

Michael Marley of the Shillings Bar in Wirral on Merseyside appealed against a conviction for showing Sky Sports programmes illegally in his premises but it was dismissed at Liverpool Crown Court on January 23, leaving him with fines and costs approaching £20,000.

It is one of about 1,500 prosecutions that have been brought by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) which protects the intellectual property rights of its member companies.

Alison Dolan, deputy managing director at Sky Business, said: “This case reinforces the message that licensees will face legal action when using any system that allows access to matches to which Sky has exclusive rights in the UK without a commercial viewing agreement.

“Sky’s on-going support for FACT in prosecuting licensees who break the law is part of our unwavering commitment to protect the investment that thousands of hardworking licensees make in Sky Sports to build their businesses and entertain their customers.”

Marley was convicted on September 17 last year along with premises licence holder Dawn Houghton and the bar’s designated premise supervisor Sharon Whitehead after a trial at Wirral magistrates court.

They were found guilty of dishonest reception of a television transmission – a Sky televised football match – at Shillings Bar without a commercial viewing agreement, contrary to Section 297 (1) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988.

The three were ordered to pay a combined total of £14,530.81 in fines and costs.

After the failure of Marley’s appeal, the crown court upheld the conviction, including the original combined fines and costs enforced. Additionally, it ordered him to pay a further £4,750 in costs, which raised the combined total fines and costs to over £19,000.

Stephen Gerrard, prosecuting manager at FACT, said: “Our aim is to help create an effective deterrent to publicans who endeavour to fraudulently show Sky content in their premises. As this case and numerous others have shown, we successfully pursue and prosecute dishonest licensees who are then faced with substantial fines, costs and a criminal record.”

The maximum penalty for breach of section 297 (1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 is £5,000 per offence.


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