ICC World Cup 2023: Rogue Websites Restrained From Streaming Cricket Matches

In an order dated September 27, 2023, the Delhi High Court in Star India Private Limited & Anr. vs. & Ors. [CS(COMM) 688/2023 and IA 19115/2023] restrained nine rogue websites from streaming the ICC World Cup matches.

The plaintiffs approached the Delhi High Court, apprehending the unauthorised streaming of the World Cup matches in light of the popularity of the tournament. It was contended that vide agreement dated November 20, 2014, the plaintiffs had acquired the exclusive global media rights for ICC events, including the World Cup 2023, for a period of 8 years from 2015 to 2023.

In support of their case, the plaintiffs listed the cases filed by them regarding the streaming of cricket events from 2021, wherein the Delhi High Court had granted injunctions subsequent to which rogue websites other than the ones arrayed as defendants had propped up during the cricket events. Further, the plaintiffs relied on the order dated August 9, 2023, issued by the Delhi High Court in Universal City Studios LLC. and Ors. V. DotMovies.Baby and Ors.[1] in which a “dynamic+ injunction” was granted, restraining websites impleaded as defendants along with their redirect/ alphanumeric/ mirror websites from streaming, reproducing, distributing, or communicating to the public any copyrighted content, including future works of the plaintiff studios.

In the present case, the Court remarked that the rights with respect to the World Cup events were obtained “after substantial monetary investment and the illegal dissemination, telecast or broadcast of these sporting events on any websites or platforms would create a severe dent in the revenues of the Plaintiffs”.

It was held that if an injunction was not issued, the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm. Also, the balance of conveniences was in favour of the plaintiffs. With this, the nine rogue websites arrayed as defendants were restrained from “communicating, screening, making available or disseminating any part of the ICC World Cup Cricket matches on any electronic or digital platform in any manner whatsoever”. The Domain Name Registrars were directed to suspend the rogue websites within 72 hours, and the ISPs, DoT and MeitY, were ordered to block the said websites.

The plaintiffs pointed out that on account of the time spent in filing the affidavits for blocking of websites not impleaded in the suit, such websites end up streaming the entire matches illegally, thereby necessitating blocking of websites on a “real time basis”. Hence, the Court allowed the plaintiffs to share details of the websites with DoT, MeitY and the ISPs, which have been directed to take immediate steps on receipt of such communication.

The matter will be heard next on November 8, 2023.

[1] CS(COMM) 514/2023 and IA 14120/2023, 14122/2023