Football fixtures row heads to court

A legal battle over whether football fixture lists are protected by copyright law has been referred to the European Court of Justice by English judges.

Six claimants, including the FA Premier League and Scottish Premier League, allege that four defendants are using the lists without licences.

Lord Justice Jacob, giving a ruling in the Court of Appeal yesterday, said the defendants need to use the lists for their various businesses, adding: "They say they are entitled to do so without paying because the law does not create rights of any of the claimed types."

Both sides appealed after High Court judge Mr Justice Floyd ruled in April this year that the lists were protected by database copyright but no other law. Three appeal judges said compilation of the lists did involve "considerable judgment and skill" and the question of copyright protection was important within the European Union.

They said they had referred questions to the European court to try to clarify parts of a Database Directive, whether it precludes national copyright law and whether the intellectual effort and skill of creating data is excluded under the Directive.