Premium Sports, the company which brings Irish GAA games and rugby and soccer fixtures to America has vowed to challenge a court verdict that a Manhattan bar was entitled to show the games without their signal.
Eugene Rooney’s Old Castle Bar challenged and won on the basis that they used a signal from a Slingbox device relayed from Dublin, which was slightly delayed and therefore did not contravene the satellite piracy act.
However, Shane O’Rourke CEO of Premium Sports, the California-based company formerly part of Setanta Sports has told Irish Central that the company is ready for a major fight back.
“We respectfully disagree with the judge on this decision and we are appealing. We will continue to monitor bars who steal the events we show be it a residential broadband feed, illegal IP or Sling box. We will continue to sue those that steal our events. But for the most part we talk to them first before we reach that stage.
“This sadly is part and parcel of the sports business. We don’t like suing anyone and would rather not.
“The law is not set on this and, if it were, Direct TV and many other companies would push to change it.
“For example Direct TV have 40,000 bars that take the NFL commercially. As you can imagine they would not let this stand and neither will we.
“Naturally it is an interesting story for the Irish community but it is far from settled and we are in the middle of appealing the decision.” O’Rourke stated.
He also stated that the quality of signal via Slingbox was far inferior, that all GAA and other games were available on tape delay within a week and that the GAA in Ireland would suffer greatly in terms of revenue if the current situation was allowed stand.
Judge Katherine Forrest had 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.”