Delhi High Court: In a case wherein few rogue websites were streaming contents of the BBCI without plaintiff’s authorization, C. Hari Shankar, J., opined that prima facie, there was substance in the plaintiff’s grievance and thus, held that the plaintiff would be entitled to an injunction against Defendants 1 to 8 from making available to the public, essentially by transmitting or broadcasting, in any manner, whether over the television or over any digital platform or the internet, the content relating to the events conducted by BCCI as broadcasted by the plaintiff in their channels including “JioCinema”.
The plaintiff provided broadcasting services and owned the online streaming platform/website www.jiocinema.com and the corresponding mobile app ‘JioCinema’, which enabled viewers to watch serials, sports, movies, and the like. In the present case, vide agreement dated 12-09-2023 executed between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (‘BCCI’) and the plaintiff, exclusive global media rights, for streaming/transmitting, over the television and digital media, events conducted by the BCCI, during the period from September 2023 to March 2028, had been granted to the plaintiff. By virtue of this agreement, the plaintiff asserted exclusive rights to make available to the public the events relating to cricket tournaments conducted by the BCCI on any platform including the internet and mobile. Any such transmission or broadcasting of the said event by any other entity would be infringing the exclusive copyright held by the plaintiff, emanating from the agreement dated 12-09-2023.
The plaintiff submitted that Defendants 1 to 8 were rogue websites engaged in making available to the public, third-party content and information through internet and mobile transmission and these websites were streaming and providing access, as well as transmitting and broadcasting recently concluded Asia Cup 2023 which commenced on 30-08-2023 without any authorisation. Also, Defendants 2 to 8 websites were streaming ‘India Tour of West-Indies 2023’ without authorization from the plaintiff. The plaintiff also submitted that some of these websites had also announced live steaming of the upcoming BCCI Event, ‘Australia Tour of India’.
The plaintiff thus sent notices to Defendants 9 to 15, the domain name registrars (‘DNRs’) and Defendants 16 to 23, the internet service providers (‘ISPs’), to block access to the websites of Defendants 1 to 8. Thus, the plaintiff approached this Court seeking protection against copyright infringement.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court opined that prima facie, there was substance in the plaintiff’s grievance, and it was a matter of common knowledge that such rogue websites come into being before such events took places and, without any licence or authorisation, start streaming and broadcasting the events over which copyright was held by others. Thus, the Court held that the plaintiff would be entitled to an injunction against Defendants 1 to 8 from making available to the public, essentially by transmitting or broadcasting, in any manner, whether over the television or over any digital platform or the internet, the content relating to the events conducted by BCCI as broadcasted by the plaintiff in their channels including “JioCinema”.
The Court further passed interlocutory directions which were to remain in force till the next date of hearing –
Defendants No. 1 to 8, their owners, partners, proprietors, officers, servants, employees, and all others in capacity of principal or agent acting for and, on their behalf, or anyone claiming through, by or under it, shall stand restrained from communicating, hosting, streaming, and/or making available for viewing and downloading, without authorization, on their websites or other platforms, through the internet in any manner whatsoever, the content over which the plaintiff had exclusive copyright, so as to infringe the plaintiff’s exclusive rights, copyrights and broadcast reproduction rights.
Defendants 24 and 25 must issue a notification, calling on internet and telecom service providers registered under the said defendants, to block access to the websites identified by the plaintiff.
Defendants 16 to 25 must block access to any similar/alphanumeric/redirect/mirror websites of the defendant websites which were indulging in infringing activities similar to those in which Defendants 1 to 8 in the present case were indulging.
The matter would next be listed on 15-01-2024.
[Viacom18 Media (P) Ltd. v. Live.smartcric.com, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5978, Order dated 21-09-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Plaintiff: Saikrishna Rajgopal, Sidharth Chopra, Sneha Jain, Yatinder Garg, Akshay Maloo, Priyansh Kohli, Advocates