HC orders blocking of rogue websites illegally telecasting cricket matches

New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has ordered blocking of certain rogue websites indulging in online piracy by showing cricket matches, which were aired by them without authorisation.

Considering that the Indian Premier League [IPL] series/ TATA IPL 2022 is starting from March 26, the high court said there is an imminent need to protect the investment of plaintiffs Star India Pvt. Ltd. and others, and to also ensure that these rogue websites do not stream illegally the cricket matches of TATA IPL 2022.

The court is also prima facie satisfied that the injunction deserves to be granted against any further websites which may suddenly emerge, showing pirated content or start streaming TATA IPL 2022 illegally and unauthorisedly, Justice Prathiba M. Singh said in an order dated March 11.

The high court directed several Internet Service Providers (ISP) to block the websites – live.flixhub.netnlive.flixhub.nettitichsports.com, nstitichsports.comvipleague.im, nvipleague.im, maxsport.one, gooal.top, t20wc.nl, nt20wc.nl, vipstand.senvipstand.se and stream.btolat.online, and also asked the Union Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) to issue orders for the blocking of these websites.

It said that as and when further websites which stream the content of TATA IPL 2022 matches illegally and unauthorisedly emerge, an affidavit in this regard may be filed by the plaintiffs before the court along with evidence.

The said websites shall also stand blocked with immediate effect, upon notice being issued to the ISPs that such an affidavit has already been filed before this court. Upon DoT and MEITY receiving the notices and communications from the plaintiff that the affidavits have been filed before the court, the orders for blocking such further rogue websites shall be passed, immediately and in any case, within 24 hours, so that the websites do not continue to stream the TATA IPL 2022 content in any manner whatsoever, the court said.

The court passed the interim order while hearing a suit by Star India Pvt. Ltd. seeking permanent injunction restraining violation of their broadcasting rights, and for rendition of accounts and damages.

The plaintiffs submitted in the suit that they have acquired exclusive media rights, which include Mobile Activation Rights, and certain ancillary Rights for the IPL matches for a period of five years from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2022.

The plaintiffs’ counsel contended that the rogue websites have been habitually observed to be airing pirated content without any licence or authorisation and showed certain screenshots of footage from the previous cricket matches including the West India Tour of the Indian men’s cricket team and the Sri Lanka Tour of Indian men’s cricket team earlier this year, which were aired without authorisation.

He submitted that these screenshots would show that the defendant websites do not respect the plaintiffs’ Exclusive Rights, and are indulging in gross violation of their rights and piracy.

The counsel submitted that the telecast on these websites is usually initiated while the match is going on, and by the time action can be taken and the websites are taken down, the match itself is over.

It was submitted in the suit that enormous loss is caused to the plaintiffs due to the illegal streaming of the cricketing events in which they own Exclusive Rights, and considering the manner in which the rogue websites emerge spontaneously during the currency of any series, an order deserves to be passed in such a manner that it would extend to such new rogue websites on an immediate ‘as and when’ basis.