Ruling in favour of Star India, which holds exclusive media rights to broadcast the ICC Men’s World Cup, the high court ordered the blocking of websites that stream matches illegally, while also granting the company liberty to approach the government and internet service providers if more such websites emerge.
THE Delhi High Court has passed a dynamic injunction against “rogue websites” illegally broadcasting matches from the upcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
An Order to this effect was passed by Justice Pratibha M. Singh of the high court on September 27.
The ruling was delivered on a case filed by Star India Private Limited and Novi Digital Private Limited seeking an injunction restraining illegal and unauthorised dissemination and broadcast of matches during the Cricket World Cup.
Novi Digital is an affiliate company of Star India which operates the online video streaming service Disney+Hotstar.
The Cricket World Cup is scheduled to be held in India between October 5 and October 19, 2023.
In 2014, Star India had acquired the exclusive global media rights to broadcast International Cricket Council (ICC) events for eight years (2015–23).
Take down rogue websites and mirrors: Star India
Star India had contended before the high court that once the Cricket World Cup begins, a large number of websites are likely to indulge in unauthorised dissemination of cricket matches or parts of them.
It was submitted that in view of the exclusive rights acquired from the ICC, Star India enjoys broadcast reproduction rights under Section 37 of theCopyright Act, 1957.
This provision declares that any person who re-broadcasts, causes the broadcast to be heard or seen by the public on payment of any charges, makes any sound or video recording of the broadcast, among other things, shall be deemed to have infringed the broadcast reproduction rights of the copyright holder.
It was further contended that upon being blocked or taken down, mirror websites may be created to continue the illegal transmission or broadcast.
The high court was urged that there is an urgent need to ensure that any website which suddenly starts illegal broadcast of a match during its course must be stopped from doing so without waiting for an affidavit to be filed before the court.
In this regard, a previousOrder of the high court where the court had granted a “dynamic+ injunction” in favour of six major film and television studios to protect copyrighted works as and when they are created was cited by Star India.
Through that Order, delivered on August 9, the high court had granted relief to Universal City Studios, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Columbia Pictures Industries, Netflix Studios, Paramount Pictures and Disney Enterprises against 16 websites and their mirrors.
This recommendation stresses the importance of urgent action on notices by broadcasters on illegal streaming and dynamic injunctions. It additionally recommends broadcasters of live events to increase the availability, affordability and attractiveness of their commercial offers to end-users across the European Union.
Accepting the arguments of the broadcaster, the Delhi High Court observed that if an injunction is not granted at this stage, “irreparable harm would be caused to the plaintiffs”.
The high court placed an interim restraint on nine defendant websites from screening, making available or disseminating any part of the Cricket World Cup.
Several internet service providers (ISPs) who were made party to the case were directed to block the said websites immediately.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) have been directed to issue blocking Orders in respect of the said websites.
The high court clarified that if, during the Cricket World Cup, any other websites are discovered streaming matches illegally, Star will be at liberty to communicate this to the DoT, the MeitY and ISPs for issuance of blocking Orders.
Upon receiving such information, the DoT, MeitY and ISPs shall take immediate steps to ensure the blocking of the said websites, the high court ruled.