The Delhi High Court has ordered the blocking of eight rogue websites that are alleged for illegally streaming cricket matches of the Indian Premier League.
Disney Star to broadcast IPL 2022 on TV and its OTT app Disney+Hotstar from March 26. Taking this into consideration, Justice Pratibha M Singh said that there was an “imminent need to protect the investment of the plaintiffs, Star India and ensure that such rogue websites do not illegally stream the said cricket matches.”
The court order read, "The Court has perused the plaint as also the documents. The documentary evidence and the screenshots placed on record prima facie show that the following websites have previously streamed pirated content of the cricket matches for which the Plaintiffs hold exclusive rights.”
Therefore, the court has directed the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue orders for the blocking of the websites mentioned below:
The court said if further websites illegally stream IPL matches, an affidavit in this regard may be filed by the plaintiffs before the court along with evidence.
The order read, “On issuance of notice to the ISP that such affidavit has already been filed before this Court, the said websites shall also be blocked with immediate effect. On receipt of notice and communication from the plaintiff to the DoT and MEITY that the affidavits have been filed before the court, orders to block such more rogue websites shall be passed immediately and in any case, within 24 hours, so that the websites are Said Tata to continue to stream IPL 2022 content in any way possible.”
The court passed the interim order while hearing a suit by Star India, which sought a permanent injunction on the violation of their broadcast rights.
Disney Star submitted in the suit that they have obtained exclusive media rights for a period of five years from January 1, 2018, to September 30, 2022, including mobile activation rights for IPL matches and certain ancillary rights.
The plaintiffs' counsel argued that the rogue websites have been habitually observed to be airing pirated content without any licence or authorisation and showed certain screenshots of footage from the previous cricket matches including the West India Tour of India 2022 and Sri Lanka Tour of India 2022, which were aired without authorisation. He submitted that these screenshots would show that the defendant's websites do not respect the plaintiffs' exclusive rights and are indulging in gross violation of their rights and piracy.
The Court issued notice and directed that the “plaint be registered as a suit”. It further directed the Defendants to file their written statement within 30 days. Along with the written statement, the Defendants shall also file an affidavit of admission/denial of the documents of the Plaintiffs.