An Analysis of Its Threat to Sports Rights Holders and the Efficacy of Past, Present and Proposed Anti-Infringement Programmes

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Summary

1. The first chapter of the presentation will outline the scope of the project and lay the foundation of the global sports business industry. Chapter 2 introduces the concept of sports sponsorship as a central feature of the commerce of sport and a major income stream for event organisers, who have a vested interest in protecting their sponsors' investments. Additionally, the chapter will outline who owns sports rights and why ambush marketing is a threat to these rights owners. Chapter 3 addresses the theme of event bidding and will highlight that the demand for protective legislation has virtually become an automatic element in bidding to host major sports events, which themselves carry high commercial stakes. In Chapter 4, there will be an analysis of whether the implementation of special legislation to protect against ambushes of sporting events is necessary and justifiable. Furthermore, there will be an assessment of the legality of such legislation generally, with a view to discerning the enforceability of relevant provisions.

2. Chapter 5 follows with an examination of the legal landscape of two of the major upcoming sporting spectacles, namely, the 2010 FIFA (1) World Cup in South Africa and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. The discussion herein will concentrate on the legal framework being established to regulate ambush marketing in those countries in anticipation of the approaching events. Key issues raised in Chapter 4 will be applied to the South African and English experiences. Chapter 6 juxtaposes the wide-ranging opinions held in judicial and academic circles as they relate not only to what activities constitute ambush marketing, but also to the lawfulness of these so-called "guerilla" marketing practices.

3. Chapter 7 closes this presentation, wherein it will be submitted that the fight against ambush marketing has had limited success in spite of the growing emphasis on using proactive measures to safeguard commercial interests attached to major sporting events. It will also be contended that the use of statutory intervention as an anti-infringement weapon is both necessary and reasonably justifiable, but has often been accompanied by overzealous implementation, disproportionate restrictions and unclear legislative provisions. Specific recommendations will be made to address the concerns summarised in this closing chapter.

Chapter One - Introduction

A. Background: The Booming Business of Sport

"... an estimated three billion people watched the spectacular opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games; and the TV rights to English FA Premier League for the three seasons, 2007-2010, have been sold by auction for a staggering GBP 1.7 billion." (2)

1.1 The global sporting industry has witnessed tremendous growth over the last two decades as it relates to spectator interest, participation and television viewership. However, it is probably in the realm of sports business that the most phenomenal growth has taken place. As confirmed by Blackshaw's observations above, sport as "big business" is an accepted reality, bringing with it tremendous incomeearning potential and at the same time vulnerability to attack from commercial predators. Sports governing bodies, especially at the international level, have depended on sponsorship, media rights, merchandising and ticket sales as their main sources of revenue. In mid-December 2009, Richard Carrion (3) indicated that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expected to amass over $2 billion for the United States (US) television rights for the 2014 and 2016 Winter and Summer Olympics. (4) England 2018 FIFA World Cup bid chief executive, Andy Anson, also recently confirmed that the [pounds sterling]15.5 million fundraising target set by the Bid Committee was close to realisation. (5) These types of figures are now commonplace in sports marketing circles and confirm the magnitude of sports business globally. …