UK High Court decides that 8 second video infringes copyright

In what may be classed as a landmark ruling for social video platforms like Vine and Snapchat, a UK High Court judge has ruled that reproducing eight seconds of a video constitutes a copyright infringement of the original content.

The ruling is a result of a case brought against the Fanatix website and app by the England and Wales Cricket Board (EWCB) as well as Sky UK in which the complainants determined that even though the clips were lasting only eight seconds, they still infringed on the copyright. The Fanatix site currently allows people to capture, caption, and share sports videos with fellow fans.

Despite the company behind Fanatix attempting using what is known as “fair use” as their defence, the judge determined that the highlights clips weren’t covered by fair dealing even though they were very short because they represented key moments of the original broadcast.

Interestingly, the judge Mr Justice Arnold said that a significantly long broadcast could be adequately summed up in an eight second video which constituted an infringement of copyright.

“Quantitatively, 8 seconds is not a large proportion of a broadcast or film lasting two hours or more. Qualitatively, however, it is clear that most of the clips uploaded constituted highlights of the matches: wickets taken, appeals refused, centuries scored and the like. Thus most of clips showed something of interest, and hence value.”

“The clips were not used in order to inform the audience about a current event, but presented for consumption because of their intrinsic interest and value. Furthermore, although the fact that a news service is a commercial one funded by advertising revenue does not prevent its use from being for the purpose of reporting current events, I consider that the Defendants’ objective was purely commercial rather than genuinely informatory”, he said.

While the decision has been made related to cricket content, what will be interesting is to see how the ruling affects other sports including Football and Rugby as well as other content capturing platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Vine and Snapchat. And considering how much money is at stake when it comes to broadcast rights as well as video capturing, this ruling may indeed provide precedence for similar judgements down the track.


About author

Matt Tewhatu
Matt Tewhatu 155 posts

Matt is the editor of Digital Sport and Chief of Snack Media's rugby division and has a journalistic background both here in UK, Australia and in his native New Zealand. Follow him on Twitter @mtewhatu

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