Delhi HC restricts unauthorised online broadcasting of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023

The Delhi High Court has prohibited online platforms from broadcasting and streaming the World Cup 2023 without proper authorisation.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has prohibited online platforms from broadcasting and streaming the upcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 without proper authorisation.

This decision stems from a legal action brought by Star India Pvt Ltd and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt Ltd, the operators of the Disney+ Hotstar platform.

The plaintiffs asserted that they hold exclusive global media rights, encompassing both television and digital rights for various ICC events, including the World Cup scheduled from October 5 to November 19, and ontended that due to the World Cup’s immense global popularity, a significant number of websites might engage in unauthorised distribution of the World Cup content.

A bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh said: “There can be no doubt in the mind of the Court that World Cup cricket matches are extremely popular, especially in the Indian subcontinent. The rights of these events have been procured by the plaintiffs after substantial monetary investment and the illegal dissemination, telecast or broadcast of these sporting events on any websites or platforms would create a severe dent in the revenues of the plaintiffs.”

Justice Singh further said that there are rights in the footage, commentary and various other elements which are put together to create the broadcast itself which is fully protectable under the Copyright Act, 1957.

“Rogue websites, which in the past have indulged in piracy of copyrighted content, are very likely to continue communicating copyrighted works to the public during the currency of World Cup 2023. Thus, there is a need to restrain any rogue websites from disseminating and communicating to the public any part of the cricket match events without authorisation or licence from the plaintiffs,” she said in the order.

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“Recently, this Court in Universal City Studios (supra) highlighted the need to pass orders that are effective in remedying the wrong being done to the right holder. The rights of IP holders cannot be rendered redundant in the virtual world and the enforcement of rights on the internet has to be real and effective,” she added.

The court further said that during the currency of the world cup matches, if any further websites are discovered which are illegally streaming and communicating content over which the plaintiffs have rights, “the plaintiffs are given liberty to communicate the details of these websites to both DoT and MeitY for issuance of blocking orders and simultaneously to the ISPs for blocking the said websites so as to ensure that these websites can be blocked on a real time basis there is no considerable delay”.

Upon receiving the said intimation from the plaintiffs, the ISPs shall take steps to immediately block the rogue websites in question, the court said.

“The DoT (Department of Telecommunications) and MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) shall also issue blocking orders immediately upon the plaintiffs communicating the details of the websites which are illegally streaming the ICC World Cup Cricket matches,” the court added.

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