Delhi High Court Orders Blocking of Unauthorized Websites, Platforms for ICC Cricket World Cup 2023


Unauthorized websites or broadcasts of ICC World Cup matches starting from October 5 have been banned with immediate effect. The sole broadcast rights to all the matches of this World Cup are reserved with Star Sports Channel and Disney Hot Star. Star Sports Channel and Disney Hot Star had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking action against them for airing ICC World Cup matches on unauthorized websites and broadcast mediums without permission.
Hearing this petition, a single bench of Justice Pratima M Patil Singh of the Delhi High Court has directed the Central Government to immediately ban all those unauthorized websites, electronic, or digital platforms through which any of the ICC World Cup cricket matches or portions of matches are being broadcast.
In fact, there were apprehensions that some unauthorized websites, which have engaged in similar crimes in the past, might somehow broadcast portions of the matches on their platforms during the period of the World Cup 2023. Therefore, Justice Pratibha M Singh said that it is unfair to broadcast any part of cricket match events without proper authorization or license from the Sports Star, and it is necessary to ban any such unauthorized website or electronic or digital platform.
The World Cup 2023 is scheduled to be held in India from October 5 to November 19 and will feature a total of 48 ODI matches.
Granting an interim injunction on a plea filed by Star India Pvt. Ltd. and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., Justice Singh said the World Cup cricket matches have immense popularity in the Indian subcontinent. The sporting event is telecast on Star Sports channels and the OTT platform ‘Disney+Hotstar’, which can be accessed through PCs, smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices.
The rights to these events were secured by the plaintiff party through significant financial investments, and any unlawful distribution, broadcast, or broadcast of these sporting events on websites or platforms would have a significant impact on the plaintiff’s revenues. Additionally, various copyrightable elements, such as footage and commentary, are combined to create a broadcast, and these elements are fully protected under the Copyright Act, 1957.
The court also said that unauthorized websites, which had previously engaged in piracy of copyrighted material, may once again surreptitiously broadcast copyrighted material during the 2023 World Cup. The court concluded, “Therefore, it is necessary to restrain any unauthorized website from distributing and making available to the public any part of the cricket match events without proper authorization or license from the plaintiff party.”
Justice Singh ordered the suspension of unauthorized websites and directed the Central government to issue blocking orders against them.
The court said, “If any website, which is not primarily involved in infringing activities, is blocked in accordance with this order, they may approach the court and give an undertaking that “does not intend to engage in illegal distribution of content of the ICC World Cup.” After passing this order, the court has scheduled the next hearing in the case of October 18.