Viacom18 Secures Injunction Against Rogue Websites Streaming BCCI Events

In an order dated September 21, 2023, the Delhi High Court in Viacom18 Media Private Limited v. & Ors. [CS(COMM) 659/2023 and IA 18466/2023] granted a dynamic injunction restraining rogue websites and their mirror, redirect or alphanumeric websites from hosting, streaming, or making available on their websites or other platforms, the events conducted by BCCI, over which the plaintiff has exclusive copyright.

In this case, the petitioner contended that it had exclusive rights for streaming or transmitting cricket tournaments and other events conducted by the BCCI between September 2023 and March 2028, in accordance with the agreement dated September 12, 2023, entered into by both parties. This agreement was executed after the petitioner emerged as the successful bidder at the e-auction held in August, for media rights to the BCCI international and domestic matches for the said five-year period.

It is alleged that the eight rogue websites, arrayed as defendants in the present case, have been streaming and transmitting the recently concluded Asia Cup 2023 without any authorisation and have also announced the live streaming of one of the BCCI events. Additionally, 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.

Observing that it was a “matter of common knowledge” that such rogue websites come into existence and without any authorisation, begin streaming and broadcasting events in infringement of copyright held by others, the Court expressed that such suits “keep cropping up every now and then” and that it “may be useful for the Legislature to formulate some kind of policy by which such disputes can avoid taking up the time of the courts”.

With this, the Court acceded to the existence of a prima facie case and granted an injunction as requested by the petitioner. Apart from issuing an injunction, the Court directed domain name registrars to suspend the domain name registrations of the rogue websites and the Central Government to block access to the rogue websites.