Friday, February 16, 2007

Belgian Court: Player Images Can Be Used Without Permission

In an interesting article, Bond Pearce LLP highlight how a Belgian court confirmed that in certain cases, betting companies can legitimately use player and club images without consent, as the betting public needs appropriate information to make informed betting decisions, and this includes photos of the clubs and players.

The court apparently accepted the betting companies’ argument that in this case, the use of players’ images did not have a predominantly commercial goal, but was an application of the right to information.

The case falls into that difficult area of sports law where the rights of access for organisations providing ‘services’ to the public must be balanced with the wishes of sports governing bodies, and personalities, to protect the value of their rights.

It is a fine line to tread. The World Association of Newspapers is currently in negotiation with the International Rugby Board and the International Cricket Council over media access to the Cricket World Cup and Rugby World Cup, both of which are to be held this year.

Another case which has parallels with both of the above concerned media access to the fourth Ashes Test in Australia. Cricket Australia had threatened to lock out media organisations due to the rebroadcast of moving images from previous tests on the internet. This case is examined by Claude Harran, of Dibbs Abbot Stillman, in the January edition of World Sports Law Report.

The relationship between sport, gambling, sponsorship and advertising will be examined at a World Sports Law Report Briefing, held at the offices of DLA Piper in London on 7 March. Contact Jit Jaswal for more information.

Andy Brown

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