STAR India has sent out notices to mobile application developers, telling them not to use live cricket scores, ball by ball updates, the match scorecard, audio commentary or match footage, MediaNama has learned from application developers. Multiple app developers who have received these notices have shared a copy of the notice with us. At the time of writing this post, Lalit Bhagia, VP & Head-Digital (Internet & Mobile) at Star TV, named in the notice, has asked us to contact STAR corp-com, and we’re awaiting a response.
This is not the first instance of a rights holder backed by the BCCI demanding that companies not monetize reportage of scores or Cricket related updates. vRock Mobile, which has the IPL rights for SMS, MMS and IVR has done the same in the past. More on that here and here.
- Beyond App Developers: Note that we’ve only heard from app developers, the notice below also attempts to restrict usage of Cricket scores and commentary by any third party, which means that it is apparently applicable to major Cricket sites like Cricinfo and Cricbuzz, as well as all major news publications online. This notice is more likely to be adhered to by small app developers than by larger outfits, because the legality of this is not very clear.
- Hot News & Impact on reportage: This is what is known as the ‘Hot News’ concept, and if this goes to court, it will impact news journalism – can an entity restrict reportage (ball by ball updates in particular) of public events? STAR India has been granted exclusive Internet, mobile and “mobile activation” rights for all BCCI international and domestic matches for six years, starting April 2012, but we wonder if this includes the right to report scores and ball by ball updates, or even the match scorecard.
- Trademarks: STAR is also attempting to use trademarks (see the reference to BCCI Marks below) to restrict usage, which is probably do-able. I’m reminded of news reportage during the IPL this year, wherein the Times of India chose to report on teams by their city-name rather than their brand name. For example – Chennai instead of Chennai SuperKings. So there is an easy workaround for news agencies and app developers.
- Commentary: The restriction on audio commentary here is also interesting – there is an opportunity to create fan based audio commentary on the web or mobile, which could perhaps be more interesting or entertaining than the one on TV. Can the BCCI restrict fan commentary?
Note that our stand on this is very clear – we’re against the idea of claiming copyright over news (rather than text) and had submitted comments against Hot News when India’s Copyright bill was being drafted.
At the same time, we understand that monetization of content on online and mobile has its challenges, and companies that pay for these rights have to try and monetize them, and one way of doing this is by trying to restrict others from monetization. It’s just that, we believe, claiming rights over news updates shouldn’t be a part of this.
A copy of the notice
23 August 2012
BCCI Mobile Rights – Caution Notice
I am writing to you on behalf of STAR INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED (“STAR”), seeking your organisation’s cooperation and support in relation to the ongoing India v. New Zealand cricket series, scheduled to take place between 23 August 2012 and 11 September 2012 and being conducted under the auspices of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”).
The BCCI has granted STAR the exclusive internet rights, mobile rights and mobile activation rights (the “Exclusive Rights”) with respect to the international and domestic matches hosted by the BCCI (“BCCI Events”) for a period of six years commencing April 2012. Further, the BCCI has authorised STAR to administer, monitor and enforce such Exclusive Rights.
Through this letter, we intend to clarify the scope of the Exclusive Rights so as to prevent any inadvertent infringements thereof by entities such as yours operating in the mobile telecommunications, mobile content, content aggregation and valued added services industries. In this context, we request you to note the following:
* STAR has the Exclusive Rights to deliver or provide access to the audiovisual and/or visual and/or visual feed/footage, including any commentary or coverage of all BCCI Events, for reception and viewing on a mobile device, including where the communication link(s) used in such delivery comprises, at least in part, mobile communications technology and/or mobile broadcast technology (“Mobile Technology”);
* No third party may use, without prior written license from STAR, any or all of the BCCI logos, BCCI names and any other BCCI marks (together, the “BCCI Marks”), or commercially associate in any other way with the BCCI Marks, either expressly or impliedly, including through marketing promotions, advertising or other commercial activity using Mobile Technology;
* No third party, without prior written license from STAR, may publish, provide, disseminate, sell or license to any person or entity, inter alia, any of the following proprietary content relating to the BCCI Events:
- ball-by-ball or other score or incident updates or alerts of any nature;
- live or near-live match scorecards or match score feeds of any nature;
- match scorecards or match score feeds using BCCI Marks;
- match schedules using BCCI Marks;
- mobile applications using proprietary match content or BCCI Marks;
- audio commentary; or
- match feed or match footage.
Should you fail to adhere to the above, you will be deemed to have knowingly breached the Exclusive Rights granted by the BCCI to STAR and STAR will have no other option than to initiate further action, including legal recourse.
This letter is not, and is not intended to be, a complete statement of the facts or law as they may pertain to this matter or of our positions, rights or remedies, legal or equitable, all of which are specifically reserved.
If you have any questions or enquiries relating to this letter, please do not hesitate to contact Copyright Integrity International, STAR’s rights protection partner and authorised agent, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to syndicate or obtain a license to the Exclusive Rights from STAR, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Lalit Bhagia at **** or call ****.
We thank you for your understanding in relation to the above.
STAR INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED
Note: Contact details redacted