Delhi HC Restrains Over 60 Websites, Radio Channels & ISPs From Broadcasting World Cup 2019 [Read Order]
In a huge relief to Channel 2 Group Corporation, which has exclusive broadcasting rights of the entire World Cup 2019, Delhi High Court passed ex-parte interim order restraining over 60 websites, some radio channels and some Internet Service Providers from broadcasting the sporting event.
The plaintiff (Channel 2 Group Corporation) had entered into an Audio Rights Agreement with ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC, which is the organizer of ICC Men's World Cup, 2019 acquiring exclusive broadcasting rights over the whole event.
Plaintiff's apprehension regarding the likely abuse of its exclusive Audio Rights and intellectual property rights arose from previous instances of infringement of its exclusive broadcasting rights by various interested persons. The said instances of infringement caused considerable financial loss to it.
Plaintiff got to believe from its agencies that the defendants were going to infringe the exclusive Audio Rights of it. It apprehended that if it were to wait and identify specific parties and collect evidence of infringement by such specific parties, significant time would be lost and the cricket matches may come to an end. Irreparable injury, loss and damage, would be caused to it in such a scenario, which would be impossible to quantify in monetary terms alone.
Counsel for the plaintiff submitted before the court that if the defendants are not authorized or licensed by the plaintiff, they cannot make any audio or radio broadcasts or stream or report any live or deferred update pertaining to any ICC Event, including any of the matches of the World Cup, 2019. Any unauthorized audio or radio broadcasts, live or deferred update, by the defendants would be illegal and will amount to piracy since the plaintiff holds the copyright and exclusive rights over such audio or radio broadcasts.
Counsel submitted further that if the defendants are not restrained as prayed for by the plaintiff, the plaintiff would suffer an irreparable injury and would be left without any remedy since the event has already begun and is to continue until 14th July, 2019.
Reliance was placed, amongst other injunctive orders from different courts on similar lines, on direction of the court in Star India Pvt. Ltd. v Piyush Agarwal, 2013 (54) PTC 222 (Del), wherein court directed that any person who wishes to gratuitously relay ball-by-ball or minute-by-minute score update or match alerts without a license, there should be a time lag of 15 minutes in transmitting such updates. Reference was also made to order of Supreme Court upholding 15 minutes time lag principle in Star India Pvt. Ltd. v. Akuate Internet Services Pvt. Ltd., SC (2013).
Justice J. R. Midha passing the interim order held that the court is satisfied that ex-parte interim order is warranted in the facts of the case. In view of the matter, it restrained the defendants, their partners, proprietors, their officers, servants, agents and representatives, franchisees and all others in capacity of principal or agent, acting for and on their behalf from broadcasting/communicating to the public audio/ radio streaming or reporting live or deferred updates including by virtue of reporting of such event highlights in World Cup, 2019 through any means without authorization of the plaintiff; transmitting / communicating to public / making available any match, audio only and/or any part of the World Cup, 2019, including live or deferred score updates, and/or textual and/or audio-only commentary, through any website, application and/or any other digital platform through internet, mobile and /or radio delivery, till the next date of hearing.
It also directed the search engines to take down/delete from their search results pages, listings of websites/ URLs which are infringing upon the plaintiff's copyright and broadcast reproduction rights, as and when notified by the plaintiff.
Channel 2 Group Corporation was represented by advocates Jayant Mehta, Deepak Biswas, Anu Srivastava, Subhlaxmi Sen and Atmaja in the case.