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Football fixtures to face copyright

Football fixtures have been protected by copyright law, forcing companies including newspapers and websites to pay if they wish to publish them.

The ruling, made by a UK High Court, goes against a 2004 European Court of Justice decision which went against protection of fixture lists and was brought forward by the English Premier League and four other bodies which claimed unlicensed use of their lists by companies including internet giant Yahoo.

The court agreed with the football bodies' argument that the work which goes into scheduling matches was sufficient to justify protection under database copyright law.

“The process of preparing fixture lists involves very significant labour and skill in satisfying the multitude of often competing requirements of those involved,” Judge Christopher Floyd said. “(It is) not mere sweat of the brow, by which I mean the application of rigid criteria to the processing of data.''

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