delhi high court

Delhi High Court: Plaintiff, Viacom18 Media (P) Ltd., a leading broadcaster had filed the present suit seeking protection of rights including reproduction rights in the programme ‘Bigg Boss’ in all formats, against Defendants 1 to 5, who were streaming and downloading websites. Prathiba M. Singh, J., restrained Defendants 1 to 5 from broadcasting, telecasting, streaming, retransmitting, and hosting any episodes of the Bigg Boss programme, which had already been telecasted or which were likely to be telecasted in future.


‘Bigg Boss’ was a reality show, which was based on the format of international Dutch show ‘Big Brother’ in which the rights were owned by Endemol Shine IP BV (‘Endemol Shine’). Plaintiff obtained format rights for this programme from Endemol Shine, which was recognized vide agreement dated 17-08-2020 for Bigg Boss Hindi, seasons 17 and 18. The said programme had 16 seasons in Hindi language and season 17 of Bigg Boss Hindi was launched on 15-10-2023. Endemol Shine had given the exclusive license of the format to plaintiff for Bigg Boss Hindi seasons 17 and 18, scheduled to be broadcasted from 15-10-2023 and Bigg Boss Kannada Seasons 10 to 12 to be broadcasted from 8-10-2023 and, Bigg Boss Marathi seasons 5 to 8. Plaintiff broadcasted these programmes on television channels, Colors and Colors Kannada and on its OTT platform ‘JioCinema’.

Plaintiff stated that in addition to owning rights in the format of the show, it also owned cinematographic rights, and broadcast reproduction rights, in original broadcast, which were produced and created in India. Plaintiff submitted that Defendants 1 to 5 were currently running the websites wherein previous seasons and programmes of Bigg Boss were being made available in an unauthorized and non-licensed manner for viewing and even the domain name of defendants were registered in the name of Bigg Boss.

Plaintiff also submitted that these defendants’ websites work through the mode of Video-On-Demand (VOD), where users were required to first register and then subscribe and/or make payment to access the unauthorized content, which was hosted, streamed etc. It was submitted by plaintiff that the websites were also advertising next two seasons, which were going to be produced and telecasted on plaintiff’s platform, contending that the same would also be launched on these websites. Plaintiff’s apprehension was that apart from unauthorized dissemination, which had already been indulged into by defendants for previous seasons and programmes, defendants were going to completely make a monetary dent on plaintiff’s business. It was stated that even permitting the recordings of programmes of the new seasons, which were yet to be launched on their platforms would cause gross violation of plaintiff’s copyrights. It was, thus, prayed that the injunction should be granted against the said domain names/websites.

Analysis, Law, and Decision

The Court opined that Bigg Boss programme enjoyed enormous popularity even in India and unauthorized and illegal dissemination of the Bigg Boss programmes, irrespective of past and future seasons, would be clear infringement of plaintiff’s copyright of broadcast and reproduction rights. If such mushrooming of websites, which also use the name Bigg Boss, was permitted, it would boost piracy and unauthorized dissemination causing heavy loss to plaintiff, which might have obtained rights in the said event/programme after making considerable investment. The Court further opined that plaintiff’s OTT channel Jio cinema was also a subscription platform and if the illegal websites were permitted to unauthorizedly telecast these programmes, the subscription base of plaintiff was also likely to be jeopardized.

The Court held that plaintiff had made out a prima facie case of ex-parte injunction and irreparable loss/harm would be caused to plaintiff if defendants were not restrained from illegal and unauthorized telecasting, broadcasting of plaintiff’s show, BIGG BOSS, either past or present episodes and the said episodes which were already scheduled for telecast shortly. Thus, the Court restrained Defendants 1 to 5 from broadcasting, telecasting, streaming, retransmitting, and hosting any episodes of the Bigg Boss programme, which had already been telecasted or which were likely to be telecasted in future.

The Court further held that domain names of the said websites shall be suspended/locked immediately by the said Domain Name Registrars (‘DNRs’), to whom plaintiff shall communicate the exact domain name details to the Grievance Officer of the said DNRs. Further, Defendant 15, Department of Telecommunications (‘DoT’) and Defendant 16, MeitY shall issue blocking orders against these websites, which shall be blocked by all the ISPs upon receiving communication from plaintiff or from DoT/MeiTy.

The matter would next be listed on 09-04-2024.

[Viacom18 Media (P) Ltd. v., 2023 SCC OnLine Del 6692, Order dated 12-10-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Plaintiff: Sidharth Chopra, Yatinder Garg, Akshay Maloo, Srishti Dhoundiyal, Priyansh Kohli, Advocates

For the Defendants: PD Gupta, Kiran Bala Agarwal, Advocates

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