In a significant development, the Delhi High Court has issued a restraining order against unauthorized online broadcasting and streaming of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. The operators of Disney+ Hotstar, Star India Pvt. Ltd., and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. brought legal action, which led to this decision on September 29, 2023. These plaintiffs asserted their exclusive global media rights, covering television and digital rights for various ICC events, including the highly anticipated World Cup scheduled from October 5 to November 19.
The court acknowledged the immense global popularity of the World Cup, particularly in the Indian subcontinent, and recognized the substantial monetary investments made by the plaintiffs to secure the rights to these events. Unauthorized distribution and broadcasting of the World Cup content on various websites or platforms posed a significant threat to the revenues of the plaintiffs.
Justice Pratibha M. Singh, presiding over the case, emphasized the protectable rights in the footage, commentary, and other elements that constitute the broadcast itself, as per the Copyright Act, 1957. The court’s ruling addressed the necessity of restraining rogue websites engaged in piracy of copyrighted content from disseminating and communicating any part of the cricket match events without proper authorization or licensing from the plaintiffs.
Moreover, the court underscored the need for effective remedies to protect the rights of intellectual property holders in the digital realm. It highlighted the importance of ensuring that enforcement of rights on the internet remains real and effective, particularly in cases of copyright infringement.
The court’s order also outlined a proactive approach during the World Cup matches. If additional websites are discovered engaging in unauthorized streaming and communication of content over which the plaintiffs hold rights, the plaintiffs have the liberty to inform both the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for the issuance of blocking orders. Simultaneously, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be responsible for blocking these rogue websites in real-time, minimizing any significant delays.
This ruling reinforces the protection of intellectual property rights and copyrights in the digital sphere, sending a clear message that unauthorized broadcasting and streaming of copyrighted content will not be tolerated, especially during high-profile events like the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
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