The war over databases is still being waged in the Courts. The result of the latest battle spells trouble for betting and gaming companies as it establishes that: database right exists in most live match data; and betting and gaming companies can be jointly liable for acts committed by their punters who use links on betting and gaming companies' websites to access the infringing data held on third parties' databases.
In Football DataCo v Sportradar & Stan James, the High Court distinguished the fixtures lists type of case (BHB v William Hill and Fixtures Marketing) on the grounds that the gathering of facts from a football match involves obtaining (and verification) of data, which qualifies for protection, rather than creation of data, which does not.
The Court also considered that Sportradar had extracted a substantial part of DataCo’s database when it took data from non-televised matches. The evidence showed that there was a channel through which a substantial amount of DataCo’s data (measured qualitatively) flowed through Sportradar to a Stan James customer’s computer.
As a result, the customers had infringed database right in DataCo’s database of match information when they downloaded it to their computers. The Court then considered whether each of Sportradar and Stan James could be jointly liable for the customers' infringement given their involvement.
The Court was not persuaded that Sportradar should be jointly liable by simply having made available some of the data on servers in Austria. There is, however, a separate, outstanding part of the claim against Sportradar that it is independently liable for infringement of DataCo’s database rights. This has been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
However, the Court decided that Stan James was jointly liable by having provided a link on their website to enable customers to access the infringing data and thereby 'encouraging' its use. The Court's reasoning is that Stan James are linking to that data to promote and enhance their service and so are adopting the acts of extraction carried out by their customers. We would expect this part of the judgment to be appealed.