In September, in the case Star India Private Limited & Anr v. Jiolive.tv & Ors, Star India Private Limited (Star’) and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd (‘Novi’) obtained a wide-ranging injunction order from the Delhi High Court. The rights asserted by Star and Novi (collectively, ‘the plaintiffs’) pertained to the World Cup 2023 event. Novi, an affiliate company of Star, owns and operates the online video streaming platform ‘www.hotstar.com’, and the mobile application ‘Disney+ Hotstar’. Star enjoys the exclusive global media rights in the event including the television rights, digital rights (Internet and Mobile) in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 matches streamed by Novi on Disney+ Hotstar.
The plaintiffs arrayed 28 defendants in the suit and sought an injunction restraining illegal and unauthorised dissemination, and broadcast of matches or parts thereof during the World Cup 2023 event. World Cup 2023 is taking place from 5th October 2023 to 19th November 2023 in India and include a total of 48 one-day matches.
The first nine defendants arrayed in the suit were owners of various rogue websites (‘rogue website owners’) primarily hosting illegal and pirated content. The next eight defendants were Domain Name Registrars (DNRs) of the domain names where the said rogue websites are being hosted. The subsequent nine defendants were various internet service providers (ISPs). The remaining two defendants were the Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
Due to the high popularity of the event and gauging from their experience during such highly popular events, the plaintiffs apprehended that:
The Court considered the importance of this highly popular global sporting event and the gravity of the problem and issued the following injunctions:
The Court’s injunction to combat online piracy for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 sets a significant precedent for future litigation related to broadcasting rights. It introduces the concept of dynamic injunctions that empower rights holders to swiftly add new infringing websites to a blocking order, thereby reducing the need for continuous legal intervention. The ruling also delineates clear, immediate responsibilities for ISPs and DNRs to act against identified rogue websites, signaling a shift towards more proactive anti-piracy enforcement.
The Court’s decision to involve government bodies like the DoT and MeitY in the enforcement process underscores the importance of a coordinated response to online piracy, which could become a standard expectation in similar cases. Additionally, the ruling acknowledges the need for rapid action against piracy in the digital age and could shape the way future events and their associated digital content are protected.