Premier League lawyers will not sue fans over ‘pirated’ Vine videos

Football fans will not be pursued with legal action for sharing unofficial footage on the popular Twitter-owned video platform, Vine.

Premier League officials warned football fans on Friday (15 August) that recording live footage of matches and sharing it online was a serious breach of copyright.

The Premier League has now confirmed that it will not sue individuals who share videos showing live footage of football games. A spokesperson for the organisation told The Lawyer it would not resort to legal action although it is planning to have unofficial clips taken offline.

In a statement, the Premier League said: “The use of Vines and GIFs to show Premier League football is a breach of copyright, and we would encourage fans to use legitimate means to access this content, such as The Sun or The Times goal apps.”

It added that the organisation is working “with social media providers to take down pirated clips” and asked fans to “understand the need to maintain the investment model that produces the football they love”.

The Premier League will continue to work with intellectual property rights company NetResult to take down pirated live streaming sites and video footage online. 

After Manchester United banned fans from bringing iPads into the stadium’s games, a Premier League representative has said that banning devices will be the choice of individual football clubs.

This action echoes the Premier League’s failed history of battling against copyright infringement, having launched a six-year lawsuit against Google-owned YouTube in 2007, ending in a stalemate in US courts in 2011 over footage shared on the video site. The Premier League has so far not taken any legal action against Twitter-owned Vine.

The body has previously turned to firms including DLA Piper for legal advice. Global IP head Simon Levine advised the Premier League on a hard-fought battle over fans’ ability to buy decoders from foreign broadcasters and watch matches at a group rate, with the European Court of Justice ruling against the organisation in a 2011 judgment (4 October 2011).

Meanwhile in 2007 Proskauer Rose and Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman were instructed by the league to sue Google and YouTube against the use of unauthorised clips.