CHENGDU, CHINA – On August 2, 2023, the "2023 Sports Event Copyright Development and Protection Seminar" co-hosted by the Copyright Society of China, Sichuan Provincial Copyright Bureau, Sichuan Intellectual Property Service Promotion Center, Sichuan Provincial Copyright Society, National Copyright Administration Network Copyright Protection Research Base, Intellectual Property Research Center of Sichuan University Law School, Sichuan Provincial Intellectual Property Development Research Center, and Beijing Zhongbanlian Technology Co., Ltd., was successfully held in Chengdu.
The seminar brought together leaders of copyright authorities, judges engaged in front-line trial practice, experts and scholars specializing in sports event copyright issues, and representatives from well-known domestic and international sports event operating enterprises to discuss hot topics and challenges in the protection of sports event copyrights. Steve Zhao, Partner at GEN Law Firm, was invited to participate in the "Topic Three: Future Technology and Copyright Protection of Sports Events" speech segment.
Mr. Zhao began his speech by discussing the current situation and characteristics of sports event live broadcast rights protection, emphasizing that combining administrative and civil preservation is the course of legal action to take for the following reasons: firstly, the foundation of these rights is stable, with a clear and well-defined attribute of sports event works; secondly, the acts of infringement are evident as the pirated platforms lack authorization for the related events; thirdly, sports events are time-sensitive, demanding swift action as delays in stopping infringement will result in irremediable losses to the rights holders; and fourthly, pirated platforms do not suffer any legal loss.
Mr. Zhao then highlighted the current difficulties in regulating illegal apps/websites that pirate live sporting events broadcasts. These illegal platforms employ various tactics to evade law enforcement, such as frequently changing registered entities, using offshore hosting, and providing false information about their administrator(s).
Against this backdrop, Mr. Zhao proposed a solution combining administrative and civil measures. The solution includes the following aspects: (1) relevant departments such as the Copyright Bureau can list event works in a warning list and impose administrative penalties on pirating platforms; (2) the Communications Administration may take measures such as disconnecting the network/removing internet access and delisting; (3) the Cyberspace Administration can delist pirating apps to maintain a healthy online environment; (4) multiple departments can carry out joint law enforcement operations to break the profit chain of pirating; (5) courts can strengthen communication with administrative departments to improve the enforcement of judgments and rulings.
Mr. Zhao believes that relevant departments need to work together, play their roles, block piracy activities from the source, and effectively protect the live broadcast rights of sporting events. This also aligns with the public interest of safeguarding consumers against deception. In summary, linking administrative and civil law and breaking the profit chain of piracy is an effective way to deal with pirating apps/websites.
Mr. Zhao's speech thoroughly explored the current situation and challenges of illegal apps/websites in China's online environment, proposed a series of potential solutions, and emphasized the importance of integrating administrative and civil law in protecting the interests of rights holders and consumers, which earned widespread recognition from the attendees.