Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Narula, J. issued interim directions for protecting the rights of the plaintiff company ‘Sony Ten Network' of channels to broadcast the forthcoming India England International Cricket Series 2022 in the licensed territories.
The instant petition was filed by Plaintiff who owns and operates the “SONY TEN Network” of channels and has acquired an exclusive license from England and Wales Cricket Board Limited (ECB) to broadcast/ communicate the said Sporting Event to the public in the territories of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and the Maldives hereinafter, “Licensed Territory seeking an order of permanent injunction against the Defendants to restrain them from infringing the rights of the Plaintiff in the forthcoming India-England International Cricket Series 2022.
The plaintiff has acquired the following rights in respect of the Sporting Event:
i. Exclusive television rights (live, delayed and repeat basis), digital rights (mobile rights and internet rights) as well as exclusive radio rights within the Licensed Territory;
ii. Exclusive Clip Rights, Audio Rights, Public Screening Rights as well as the right to make programmes relating to the matches and Highlights Programmes;
iii. Exclusive right to create contemporaneous textual commentary of the matches on its mobile platform and website;
iv. Right to sub-license the Media Rights.
The Court observed that that Plaintiff has exclusive media rights from ECB and thus a prima facie case is made out in favour of the Plaintiff to grant protection against the illegal transmission, broadcasting, communication, telecast and unauthorized distribution of any event, match, footage, clip, audio-video, audio of the Sporting. The balance of convenience lies in favour of the Plaintiff, and it is likely to suffer irreparable loss and injury, if an injunction is not granted in its favour.
The Court granted interim directions as follows:
“(i) Defendants No. 1 to 39 are restrained from, in any manner, hosting, streamlining, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public and/or communicating to the public or facilitating the same on their websites through the internet in any manner whatsoever, any cinematograph work, content, programme and show or event in which the Plaintiff has copyright.
(i)(a) This injunction shall also operate in respect of the mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites, which are put in play by Defendants No. 1 to 39 to grant access to the websites.
(ii) Defendants No. 58 to 89 are directed to block access to the websites of Defendants No. 1 to 39.
(ii)(a) This direction will also operate qua mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites, which have their roots in the websites of Defendants No. 1 to 39.
(iii) Defendants No. 40 to 57 and 92 are restrained from, in any manner to host, stream, reproduce, distribute, broadcast, make available to the public and/or communicate to the public any unauthorized and unlicensed reproduction or broadcast on the local channels or through other means of various copyrighted content, including but not limited to the matches of the said sporting events through cable network.
(iv) Defendants No. 90 and 91 shall issue necessary directions/notifications calling upon various ISPs, in general, to block access to the websites of Defendants No. 1 to 39 as also qua mirror/ redirect/ alphanumeric websites of the said Defendants.
(iv) Plaintiff is given liberty to file an application under Order I Rule 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 to array other rogue websites if the same are discovered after the issuance of the instant interim order. The purpose being that the Court, in these cases, needs to dynamically monitor such egregious illegality and, if necessary, pass interim orders to restrain similar rogue websites from illegally streaming the creative content in which the plaintiffs have a copyright.”
The Court further considered it appropriate to appoint Mr. Sarvan Kumar as the Local Commissioner who on receiving information from the Plaintiff, are required to undertake the following steps:
(i) to ascertain whether these Defendants are unauthorisedly distributing or transmitting/ communicating/ redistributing the said Sporting Events without the licence of the Plaintiff;
(ii) to search the property and inspect/ seize the equipment(s) being used for unauthorized distribution or redistribution and take the same into custody, if in case they are found to broadcast, distribute or communicate to the public, the contents of either of the events or part thereof and upon preparing the inventory and sealing them, release the same on Superdari to the said Defendants;
(iii) to seize books of accounts including ledgers, cash books etc. in the said premises of the defendants if they are found unauthorizedly distributing or transmitting the said sporting events. The Local Commissioner will be at liberty to break open locks, if so required;
(iv) to make a sample recording of illegal transmission, if possible and take the photographs.
[Culver Max Entertainment Private Limited v. F1.MyLiveCricket.Live, CS (COMM) 439 of 2022, decided on 29-06-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Abhishek Malhotra, Atmaja Tripathy, Sapna Chaurasia, Pritha Mitra and Karen A. Baretto, Advocates, for the Plaintiff.
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.