The Football Association Premier League
The Football Association Premier league is the top flight football tournament in England. It is administered by the Football Association Premier League and is regulated by the English Football Association.
The Fixture List
The fixture list is created initially by a computer generated system and then through consultation with the clubs and then produced prior to the season beginning.
Copyright protection in the fixture list
All of the FA Premier League fixtures are protected by copyright under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 and are owned by the FA Premier League. If you wish to reproduce the fixture list or any part of it on your website or in your publication the Football Association would expect you to pay a licence fee for the use of this information.
Websites and publications reproducing the fixture list
You will see many publications including websites and print publications reproducing the FA Premier League fixture list. These websites and publications will all have paid for the licence fee which is expected to be around £250.
Are there any websites and publications which do not need to pay for the licence fee?
The official websites of the clubs participating in the FA Premier League will not be required to pay for a licence fee for the use of the fixture lists.
Furthermore if you produce a website or a publication which is an officially nominated fanzine for a particular club you will not be required to pay a licence fee for the use of the fixture list. If you operate a fanzine but are not nominated as an official club fanzine you can post a link of your website to your clubs official site.
What happens if I do not have a licence?
If you do not have a licence to print the fixture list there is no provision under UK law for any fixtures to appear in advance of the match being played. If you mention more than one fixture this will not be accepted and you will be found to be in breach of Copyright laws.
Can I mention just one fixture?
In order to infringe copyright protection you must have reproduced a substantial part of the work. Simply mentioning a fixture in an article or on a website prior to or after the match will not constitute a substantial part of the work. It is thought that however, more than one match will be deemed to be a substantial part of the work.
Are there any other rights which may protect a fixture list under UK law?
In 2004 a decision was made in relation to football fixture lists being protected under the European Union Database right.
What is the European Union Database Right?
A database is protected under the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 in relation to a database where there had been substantial investment in obtaining verifying or presenting the contents of the database.
The maker of the database is the owner of the database right. Where the database is made by an employee in the course of employment the employer is regarded as the maker subject to any agreement to the contrary.
A person will infringe the database right if they, without the consent of the owner, extract or re-utilise all or a substantial part of the database.
What happened in this case?
In this case a challenge was brought against companies in Europe by the body which regulates the licences for football fixture lists.
The court held that although a football fixture list may be considered to be a database within the meaning of the Database Directive the finding and collecting of the data that make up such as list does not require any investment independent of what is required for the creation of the data contained in that list. Furthermore the professional leagues do not need to put any particular effort into the monitoring of the accuracy of the list.
It was therefore held that neither the obtaining, verification not presentation of the contents of a football fixture list attests to substantial investment which could justify protection under the database right.
What should I do if I wish to reproduce any aspects of the fixture list?
Despite only being protected by copyright and not also the database right the Football Premier League can still restrict the substantial reproduction of the entire or part of the fixture list. As a consequence if you wish to use it you must ensure that you are licensed by the appropriate body.
If your website cannot afford to be licensed you should do one of the following:
Ensure that you only mention single games when reporting on that game and do not produce a fixture list on your site
Speak to your chosen club about becoming an official fanzine
If you cannot become an official fanzine then provide a link to the an official club page