In a recent case before the Delhi High Court ‘Viacom18 Media (P) Ltd. v. Live.smartcric.com & ors., Viacom18, the owner of Jio Cinema, was granted a dynamic injunction against several rogue websites. These websites were found to be streaming content related to events conducted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) without the necessary authorisation.
The Delhi High Court acknowledged the plaintiff’s grievance and determined that there was a strong prima facie case. Consequently, the Court ruled in favour of Viacom18 (the plaintiff) and granted a dynamic injunction against Live.smartcric.com and the other Defendants.This injunction prohibited them from making BCCI-related content available to the public through various means, including television, digital platforms, and the Internet. It also covered events conducted by BCCI, which the plaintiff broadcast on their channels, including ‘JioCinema,’ for which the plaintiff held exclusive copyright.
Facts of the case
The plaintiff provided broadcasting services and owned the online streaming platform website www.jiocinema.com and a mobile app named ‘JioCinema’, which enabled viewers to watch serials, sports, movies, and other content online.
In this case, the plaintiff, as per the agreement dated September 12, 2023, entered into with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (‘BCCI’), was granted exclusive global media rights for streaming/transmitting events organised by the BCCI over television and digital media from September 2023 to March 2028 on any platform, including the Internet and mobile.
Any attempt by any other entity to transmit or broadcast these events would constitute an infringement upon the plaintiff’s exclusive copyright, which derives from the agreement dated September 12, 2023. The plaintiff alleged that Live.smartcric.com and the other seven Defendants operated rogue websites engaged in making third-party content and information available to the public via the Internet and mobile transmission.
These websites were found to be streaming and providing access, as well as transmitting and broadcasting to the recently concluded Asia Cup 2023, which started on August 30, 2023, without permission. Additionally, Defendants 2 to 8 were streaming the ‘India Tour of West Indies 2023’ without authorisation from the plaintiff. The plaintiff also noted that certain websites had announced plans to livestream the upcoming BCCI Event, ‘Australia Tour of India,’ commencing from September 22, 2023. Consequently, the plaintiff stated that notices have been sent to the domain name registrars and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), requesting them to block access to the rogue websites. In light of these circumstances, the plaintiff has approached this Court to seek protection against copyright infringement.
Analysis and Order of the Delhi High Court
Analysing the facts of the case, the Court stated that there was substance in the plaintiff’s grievance, and it was a “matter of common knowledge” that such rogue websites come into existence and, without any license or authorisation, begin streaming and broadcasting events over which others held copyright. Further, the Court stated that such suits “keep cropping up every now and then” and “It may be useful for the Legislature to formulate some kind of a policy by which such disputes can avoid taking up the time of the courts.” In view of this, the Court agreed to the existence of the prima facie case, granted an injunction in favour of the plaintiff, and restrained the defendants from making available to the public, essentially by transmitting or broadcasting, in any manner, whether over the television or 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 restrained Live.smartcric.com and the other seven Defendants from hosting, streaming, or making unauthorised BCCI-related content available on their websites or other platforms where the plaintiff has exclusive copyright, then directed Defendants 9 to 15 to suspend the domain name registration of Defendants 1 to 8. Further, the Court also instructed Defendants 16 to 25 to block access to any similar or mirror websites of Defendants 1 to 8 and ordered Defendants 24 and 25 to notify internet and telecom service providers to block access to the websites identified by the plaintiff. Lexology