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Arsenal v Chelsea - EU rules on who owns fixture lists

A claim for copyright over football fixture lists was rejected by European judges today.

A ruling in Luxembourg said that although compiling such lists required "significant" work and skill, it lacked the creativity required for copyright protection.

"A football fixture list cannot be protected by copyright when its compilation is dictated by rules or constraints which leave no room for creative freedom," said the judges.

UK company Football Dataco, responsible for protecting the rights acquired in English and Scottish football league fixtures, accused internet site Yahoo, bookmaker Stan James and sports information provider Enetpulse of breaching EU copyright rules by using the fixture lists without payment.

The lists are drawn up by Football Dataco, the Football Association, the Premier League, the Football League and their Scottish counterparts.

The EU's Data Directive gives copyright protection to databases "if the selection or arrangement of their contents constitute the author's own intellectual creation", the judges said.

The fixture lists are prepared in accordance with several "golden rules", and the preparation process, although partly automated, requires "very significant labour and skill in order to satisfy the multitude of requirements of the parties concerned whilst respecting the rules".

But the ruling said: "The fact that the compilation of the list required significant labour and skill on the part of its creator does not justify, in itself, it being protected by copyright."

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