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Court backs database owner in live football data case

Football Dataco has won its latest battle with bookmakers over the protection of live data relating to English and Scottish football matches, with a judge describing the defendants’ activities as “commercial piracy”

The decision, given by the England & Wales Court of Appeal yesterday, is Football Dataco v Stan James and Sportradar.

Football Dataco, which was set up by the relevant football leagues, compiles a database called Football Live. It includes live data such as goalscorers, penalties and red cards for a wide range of football matches.

In the litigation, Football Dataco said that the database costs £600,000 a year to compile and it claimed to own a sui generis database right in it.

Sportradar provides statistics to third parties such as bookmakers which it calls Live Scores. This includes data on football matches which is extracted in part from Football Live.

The case raised a number of issues regarding jurisdiction, database protection, liability and defences. It was further complicated in that Sportradar changed its practice after the litigation was started, so as to include less data for the lower-division matches.

The jurisdiction questions were referred to the Court of Justice of the EU, which ruled last October that the UK courts have jurisdiction where an overseas party intends to target members of the UK public. Sportradar subsequently conceded that it has that intention as it sells data to Stan James, a bookmaker.

In the meantime, Mr Justice Floyd ruled on the substantive issues in the case last May. Both parties appealed aspects of the decision.

The Court of Appeal yesterday ruled in favour of Football Dataco, with Sir Robin Jacob writing the judgment.

He found that there is a sui generis database right in the Football Live database; that UK punters extract a substantial part of it when using a pop-up on the Stan James website; and that both Stan James and Sportradar are joint tortfeasors.

He also rejected the defendants’ arguments under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights as “hopeless” saying: “The plain fact is that Sportradar is extracting a substantial part of the Football Live data without paying and Stan James are paying not FDC but Sportradar for the data collected by FDC.”

Football Dataco was represented by barristers James Mellor QC and Lindsay Lane and law firm DLA Piper.

Stan James was represented by Geoffrey Hobbs QC, Philip Roberts and Olswang while Michael Silverleaf QC, Hugo Cuddigan and Bird & Bird acted for Sportradar.

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