The Sports Rights Owners Association (SROC) strongly regrets that the European Parliament (EP) plenary vote on the Digital Services Act (DSA) did not respond to the urgent request from live content producers and in particular sport events’ organisers to address the issue of digital piracy.
While we commend the EP for working expediently to adopt its position one year only after the publication of the European Commission’s proposal, the EP position fails to deliver on the removal or disabling of access to illegal live content during a live broadcast. This issue plagues our industry as we rely on the economic value of live media rights. The failure to clarify the concept of “expeditious removal or disabling access” to illegal live content, proposed as part of amendments to recital 22, is a missed opportunity to make enforcement of our rights meaningful and real.
Moreover, the last-minute addition in the IMCO Committee of Article 14.3.a) makes the situation even worse for sports and live events organisers in Europe. Through this article, hosting providers are not even required to “expeditiously” remove or block access to illegal content reported to them. On the contrary, they are allowed to leave illegal reported content available until its legality is assessed by them. This is clearly unacceptable for live content, where every second counts and no interpretation or assessment is needed as content is fingerprinted and/or watermarked. To put it bluntly, this new article would literally help piracy of live content spread even more across the European Union.
As a matter of fact, digital piracy continues to be a scourge on the European cultural and creative industries, including European sports, and will continue to be until clear and meaningful action is taken at European level to stop it. The European Institutions have a duty to protect this important sector, which has already suffered so much through the grueling COVID-19 pandemic and must act now.
The Sports Rights Owners’ Coalition calls on the EU co-legislators to make the DSA fit for live content by rejecting article 14.3a), respecting thus the EP’s resolution ‘Challenges of sport events’ organisers in the digital environment’, adopted on 19 May 2021 by a 2/3 majority. This resolution addresses “the issues related to the illegal online transmissions of sport broadcasts” with the aim to find a solution to the issue of piracy.