The UK High Court has ruled that a company is only deemed responsible for the public broadcast of online information in the country in which the data-hosting server sits, not in all countries where the data can be accessed.
The ruling could have important implications for UK businesses, particulalry with the development of Cloud computing.
In court documents relating to an intellectual property rights case between UK-based organisations and two European-based companies, Mr Justice Floyd, said:
"The act of making available to the public by online transmission is committed only where the transmission takes place.
"It is true that the placing of data on a server in one state can make the data available to the public of another state but that does not mean that the party who has made the data available has committed the act of making available by transmissions in the state of reception."
Mr Justice Floyd made the conclusion while hearing defendants, the German Sportradar GmbH and the Swiss parent company Sportradar AG, apply for an order stating that the UK court has no jurisdiction to act on a copyright and database right infringements claim against them by the claimants Football Dataco, the Scottish Premier League, the Scottish Football League and PA Sport UK.
The UK-based claimants are involved in providing statistics from UK football matches in a database called Football Live. They have accused Sportradar GmbH, which provides a rival service called Sport Live Data, of copying from their database.
However, Sportradar, which has denied the allegations, said that the UK court had no jurisdiction for the claim because the data in question, which can be accessed from anywhere, is hosted on webservers in Germany and Austria.
Mr Justice Floyd based his judgment on the fact that the UK maintains that all wireless broadcasts are covered by the "emission theory". Under this theory, which originates from the EU Directive on Satellite Broadcasting and Cable Re-transmission, the act of broadcast is defined as"occurring where the signals are introduced under the control of the person making the broadcast into an uninterrupted chain of communication".
Nonetheless, the judge concluded that the UK court has jurisdiction over claims relating to authorising copyright information, and the case will be continuing.