British Broadcasting Corporation and BBC Worldwide Ltd v Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society Ltd and Performing Right Society Ltd; Sky Ltd and ITV Networks Ltd intervening [2018] EWHC 2931 (Ch)

6 November 2018

Lindsay Lane, alongside Rhodri Thompson QC of Matrix Chambers, appeared for the Respondents, the BBC. Martin Howe QC and Michael Conway appeared for Sky, intervening.

The appeal related to decision of the Copyright Tribunal on a preliminary issue in a reference brought by the BBC, concerning the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to settle the terms of copyright licenses insofar as they concerned copyrights subsisting under the laws of jurisdictions other than the United Kingdom.

The Appellants (PRS) argued that the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to settle licence terms exclusively related to licenses of UK copyright, and that accordingly the Tribunal had wrongly held that it had jurisdiction over those parts of the BBCs licenses that related to acts restricted by non-UK copyrights.

Arnold J, allowing the Appeal, held that under Sections 124 and 126 of the Copyrights Designs and Patents Act 1988, the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to set the terms of licences of foreign copyrights. Although Section 124 did not specifically refer to acts in the UK, this limitation could be implied from Sections 16 and 117 of the Act.

However, in relation to an alternative argument put forward by Sky, he held that the Tribunal has the authority in certain circumstances to determine licences which cover both UK copyrights and foreign copyrights. Whether the Copyright Tribunal has jurisdiction to determine such licences in a particular case is fact-sensitive and will depend on the nature of the reference to the Tribunal.

View judgment