EU Ruling Raises Football Viewing Questions
The EU courts have ruled that current Premier League broadcasting rights are against the law, in a move that may allow football fans to watch matches using foreign decoders.
The landmark ruling will allow pubs to show football matches via the cheaper satellite devices - but only if rights holders allow.
Currently BSkyB owns almost all broadcasting rights to live English Premier League games.
Along with ESPN, it paid a combined £1.78bn for three-year rights in Britain.
The initial case was brought by a Portsmouth pub landlady against the Premier League over its broadcasting restrictions.
Karen Murphy, who owns the Red White and Blue pub, had been fined £8,000 for using a cheaper Greek decoder to screen live matches.
She has claimed the ruling as a victory and told Sky News she continues the fight as a matter of principle.
"I should be able to go out, as with any other commodity, and choose to buy from wherever I like," she said.
After a six-year legal battle, the European Court of Justice has ruled that the current system of separate broadcast licences for different member countries is "contrary to EU law".
The restriction had effectively prevented fans from watching matches with a decoder card in member states.
The verdict could have far reaching consequences for the football fan, Sky TV and for the whole of English football.
Its implications are still unfolding but it may force the Premier League to sell pan-European television rights in the future.
There are 18 legal points to consider and further legal appeals in the British High Court still to come.
Judges warned that "protected works" - which could include the opening sequence, any graphics or the Premier League anthem - are subject to copyright and their broadcast will require the permission of the the Premier League.
However the matches themselves are not copyrighted. BSkyB shares fell 3% as the news came out.
In a statement the Premier League said it would "take time to digest and understand the full meaning of the judgment".
But it added: "We are pleased the judgment makes it clear that the screening in a pub of football match broadcasts containing protected works requires the Premier League's authorisation.
"Currently only Sky and ESPN are authorised by the Premier League to make such broadcasts.
"The Premier League will continue to sell its audio-visual rights in a way that best meets the needs of our fans across Europe and the broadcast markets that serve them - but is also compatible with European law."