Landmark ruling in favor of Irish pub sued for showing soccer game live
Judge rules that use of Slingbox device does not constitute satellite piracy
An Irish bar and restaurant owner in America has won a landmark case against Premium Sports which has had a monopoly on showing Irish GAA and many soccer and rugby games in selected bars throughout America.
Eugene Rooney, owner of the Old Castle Pub in Manhattan, won his case by proving that the game he showed was not pirated from a satellite signal.
Instead, the court agreed with Rooney that the game he showed on February 13, 2010 between Scotland and Wales in soccer, was not a simultaneous transmission, but rather was a minutely delayed signal from a Slingbox device in a home in Dublin.
A Slingbox allows programs shown in one country to be shown in another by streaming the data. There is usually a minute or so delay.
The decision appears to allow Irish bars all over the US to show Irish games via Slingbox. Premium Sports, formerly Setanta Sports, previously had a monopoly.
Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the “transmission that was shown from an apartment in Dublin, Ireland was not the initial transmission and that defendants had not “intercepted” the transmission. In effect, she stated it was a rebroadcast, not an interception of a live signal and that the initial live signal had been legally acquired in Dublin.
An expert called by the Rooney side had testified that there was at least a one or two minute delay from the time the signal was received legally in Dublin and then sent via Slingbox to America. Therefore, they stated that no unlawful scrambling of the signal had taken place.
“The federal statute regarding cable and satellite piracy is quite favorable to the providers, but it does have its limits, and Premium really tried to push those limits in this case,” said Joel Christoph of the Law Offices of Thomas S. Rosenthal, attorney for Old Castle.
“The Slingbox doesn’t intercept or descramble signals, it merely records and re-transmits content that has already been received. That type of activity is generally not prohibited by the satellite piracy statutes.” Christoph continued.
Old Castle principal Eugene Rooney was extremely pleased with the result. “It takes so much time and money to stand up to these people and most pubs will just cave into Premium’s demands to avoid the hassle. I knew we were in the right and I was not going to back down. I couldn’t be happier.”
Having gotten all of Premium’s claims against it dismissed, Old Castle now intends to pursue its own claims against Premium for Breach of Contract.
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