The Arena Racing Company (ARC) and The Racing Partnership (TRP) have won a High Court case against Satellite Information Services (SIS) for the unlawful use of racing data from a number of its UK racecourses.
The UK’s High Court has ruled SIS and the Tote breached duties of confidence by unlawfully taking, supplying and commercially exploiting data without the full permission of either the ARC or TRP.
Raceday data includes the state of the course, the withdrawal of any horses, changes in jockeys, the exact start and finish time of a race, stewards’ enquiries, photo finishes and the result.
The legal process will now move forward to determine the amount of damages payable by SIS to TRP.
TRP was set up to exclusively license media rights from horse race meetings at ARC and other independent racecourses, direct to retail bookmakers and other betting operators.
Customers such as William Hill, Paddy Power and various independent operators contracted directly with TRP to receive a rights package comprising live data and audio-visual coverage for fixtures from Doncaster, Lingfield Park, Southwell, Royal Windsor, Wolverhampton and Worcester from the start of 2017.
However, it transpired that the retail estates of Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred did not contract with TRP to secure the supply of live data and TV coverage from the racecourses. Instead, the bookmakers compiled data from other sources to create an unofficial service from the Tote’s presence on-course and other sources through SIS, without payment to TRP.
As a result, TRP in January 2017 launched High Court proceedings against SIS and the Honourable Mr Justice Zacaroli has now ruled that SIS was fully aware of the requirements related to this data in terms of payment owed to TRP.
In a 96-page judgment, Justice Zacaroli said SIS was aware that the ARC imposed restrictions on the use of raceday data on all attendees and the ARC had granted exclusive rights to exploit the data for fixed-odds betting purposes to TRP.
SIS was also aware that there was considerable commercial value in being able to disseminate data to off-course bookmakers as soon as possible, while the Tote had no contractual arrangement with ARC regulating its entitlement to collect, or sub-licence to others the data.
The Tote did have the right to be on the Arena Racecourses, but this had only ever been exercised for the purposes of pool betting. Justice Zacaroli said SIS would have been aware that any other use of this data would breach confidence.
Although Justice Zacaroli said that ARC and TRP had not made good their other claims in conspiracy through unlawful means, he concluded SIS is liable to the claimants under a separate direct claim for breach of confidence.
“In these circumstances, and given that SIS is the only remaining defendant in the action, it is difficult to see what a finding that SIS was also liable in conspiracy would add,” Justice Zacaroli said.
During the trial, SIS admitted it was not entitled to take and commercially exploit Raceday Data from third-party websites carrying the official data from TRP’s media rights package, and its practice of doing so infringed TRP’s database rights and was unlawful.
SIS also said it was not entitled to use data from betting exchanges to create and commercially exploit betting prices without authorisation from these exchanges, and its practice of doing so was again unlawful.
In addition, SIS admitted to breaching the terms of a data licence with TRP by supplying data to certain bookmakers not licensed by TRP to receive it.
ARC chief executive Martin Cruddace praised the ruling, saying he was pleased the High Court has recognised the validity and enforceability of its exclusive rights to the data created and collected on its racecourses.
“We welcome the fact that the judgment gives a ruling on the rights in and protection of raceday data which is important to all of British Horse Racing,” he said.
“It is clear and, in our view, beyond any reasonable dispute that Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred were only able to not enter into media rights agreements with TRP, on proper commercial terms (between Jan 1st and late July 2017), because of their access to raceday data unlawfully supplied by SIS, and it follows that SIS is responsible for the very significant damages to which TRP is entitled.
“We will now expeditiously commence the proceedings to determine the quantum of damages and will continue to monitor any infringements of our rights and take appropriate action wherever such infringements are found.”
Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred are yet to comment on the ruling.