I write to update you regarding a recent Justice R.K. Gauba Delhi HC order concerning restriction of unauthorized broadcasting/transmission of the VIVO IPL 2017.
The order can be found at: Sony Pictures vs Home Cable- IPL 2017.
This is more of a detailed report, as opposed to an analytical piece.
Sony Pictures Networks India sought two reliefs:
i. An ex parte ad interim injunction restricting unauthorized relay of IPL 2017.
ii. Appointment of Local Commissioners.
The defendants in the case were “Multi System Operators“, “Local Cable Operators” and other unnamed parties, spread across the country.
Sony, fearing such entities would broadcast/transmit IPL 2017 without an authorizing license, approached the court.
After reviewing relevant documents and arguments (not mentioned in order), prima facie, the court held that Sony had exclusive media and broadcasting rights over IPL 2017, by virtue of a licensing agreement with BCCI.
Relying upon similar orders passed in relation to earlier seasons of the IPL, the court allowed for an ex parte ad interim injunction restricting all defendants, along with unnamed defendants, from unauthorized relay of IPL 2017.
The relevant excerpt runs as follows:
“In the facts and circumstances of the case, the defendants, their directors, partners, proprietors, their officers, servants, agents, assigns, representatives, franchisees, head-ends, and all others in capacity of principal or agents acting for and on their behalf, as the case may be, as also all other persons who are presently unknown, are hereby restrained, till next date of hearing, from broadcasting / rebroadcasting / transmitting / re-transmitting or communicating to the public through any medium whatsoever including their subscribers,through cable TV network(s) or otherwise, the contents of coverage of VIVO IPL 2017 Cricket Tournament, as telecast by the channels SIX, SIX HD, SONY ESPN, SONY ESPN HD and SET MAX of the plaintiffs, unless and until they have paid subscription to and obtained license …“
The order required notice to be given to the defendants within a week.
The court appointed Mr. Jamal Akhtar (Advocate” and Ms. Hamsini Shankar (Advocate) as “Local Commissioners” and tasked them with the following:
i. Ascertain whether unauthorized broadcast is taking place in premises they visit.
ii. Serve a copy of injunction order in case of named defendants. In the event that the commissioners choose to visit unnamed defendants, they will have to serve the plaint, affidavits, list of documents and the interim applications.
iii. Search and make an inventory of equipment used for unauthorized communications.
iv. Seize and seal such equipment.
v. Hand over such seized equipment on superdari to the defendants.
Superdari is when the owner of certain goods is required to safeguard them for production in court, until proceedings are concluded.
vi. Collect photographic evidence of unauthorized communications, along with similar evidence of commission proceedings.
vii. Direct concerned persons indulging in unauthorized communications:
To disclose legal status (partnership, company, etc.) of entity located at premises.
To disclose details of individuals concerned with the entity.
The order further clarified that if at the time of the commissioners visits, the defendants would like to obtain a license for communication of IPL 2017 to the public, they would be provided the opportunity by the plaintiff’s representatives.
Additionally, the court entitled the commissioners to take any help from the plaintiff’s representatives, the plaintiff’s technical experts or the police, if need be. Similarly, the plaintiff’s were provided the liberty of making use of the Commissioner’s services on match days after prior intimation.
Finally, the court wrapped up with the formalities, including the commissioner’s fee (borne by the plaintiff), extra costs, time of submission of their reports, et cetera.
Sony Pictures vs Home Cable- IPL 2017.
Cover image from here.