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No Live Cricket Commentary, Scores or Scorecards – STAR India Tells App Developers


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Now that the ‘Hot News’ case is in the Supreme Court of India, STAR India has begun sending fresh legal notices to application developers, warning them against publishing minute-by-minute Cricket scores and ball by ball commentaries “for a fee, charge or any other premium (by whatever name called),” saying that this would amount to “a breach of the Exclusive Rights.”

It has also warned developers against commercialization of these rights through user subscriptions and third party advertising, saying that this will amount to the breach of STAR’s Exclusive Rights.

STAR’s emailed response to a few questions that we sent to them. We’ve included our take as well, but we’re not lawyers and you should check with your lawyer before taking a decision:

MediaNama: The order from the single judge of the Delhi High Court pertained to Mobile Rights and Mobile Activation rights. Please explain how this judgment, as suggested by you in your email, is this applicable to the “digital rights”, which includes Internet rights as well?

STAR India: The principle underlying the order of the Single Judge, Delhi High Court was that contemporaneous commercial exploitation of match information cannot be done without procuring an appropriate license from the event owner / rights holder who has expended considerable capital, labour and invested in organising the event. Whether this commercial use is in the form of subscription revenue from telecom subscribers or through advertising sourced on internet websites, the principle would apply with equal force.

Our Take: Whatever the principle of the order might be, the order was restricted to Mobile Rights and Mobile Activation Rights, and hence may not be applicable to the Internet.

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MediaNama: The injunction is applicable only to the parties concerned, or to all entities disseminating live scores?
STAR India: The direction for deposit of Rs. 10 lakhs and maintain of true and accurate accounts etc. is applicable to the parties concerned. However, if other parties continue to disseminate match information without taking a license from Star India, we believe that in the circumstances, we could persuade other courts in the country to make the Supreme Court order applicable to such entities as well.

Our Take: This means that the order is only applicable to the parties concerned, but STAR reserves the right to take others to court. Also note that STAR hasn’t won the case in the Supreme Court, and order itself that the current status is “purely as an interim arrangement”, and even that “We make it clear that if the plaintiffs eventually fails in the suit, the trial court shall be free to determine such amount of compensation to be awarded to the defendants or any one of them as may be considered just and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case.” This means that the case could go either way.

MediaNama: The Delhi High Court (single judge) ordered that
a. A limited interim injunction restraining the defendants from disseminating contemporaneous match information in the form of ball-by-ball or minute-by-minute score updates/match alerts for a premium, without obtaining a license from the plaintiff.
b. There shall be no restriction upon the defendants to report noteworthy information or news from cricket matches (as discussed in paragraph 49), as and when they arise, because stale news is no news.
c. There shall be no requirement for the license if the defendants do it gratuitously or after a time lag of 15 minutes.

Therefore, are all parties still allowed to broadcast information with a 15 minute delay and noteworthy information with no delay at all?

STAR India: If parties are desirous of commercially exploiting Match Information, they may do so only after obtaining appropriate licenses from STAR.

Our Take: What STAR claims is contrary to the order of the single judge.

Here’s the notice that STAR has sent to developers:

9 October, 2013

Sirs,

BCCI Media Rights – Caution Notice
1. I am writing on behalf of STAR India Private Limited (“STAR”) in relation to the upcoming cricket series between India and Australia scheduled to take place between 10 October, 2013 and 2 November, 2013 and being conducted under the auspices of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”).
2. Please be advised that 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.
3. With the above as background, your attention is drawn to the following:

• STAR has the Exclusive Rights to deliver or provide access to the audiovisual and/or audio 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;
• All proprietary content relating to the BCCI Events has been licensed to STAR on an exclusive basis by the BCCI. Any unlicensed commercial utilisation of the same is in violation of STAR’s Exclusive Rights and / or
rights as may be further granted by STAR to its official sponsors, licensees and partners.
• In particular, please note that any unlicensed dissemination of contemporaneous match information originating from BCCI Events, in the form of ball-by-ball commentary or minute-by-minute score updates/match alerts for a fee, charge or any other premium (by whatever name called), amounts to a breach of the Exclusive Rights. Further, please note that any manner of commercialisation of the Exclusive Rights, either through user subscriptions or third party advertising, resulting in the unjust enrichment of unlicensed third parties, shall amount to a breach of STAR’s Exclusive Rights.
• No third party may, without prior written license from STAR, publish, provide or disseminate for a charge, fee or other premium, or otherwise 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; or
– live or near-live match scorecards or match score feeds of any nature.

• No third party, without prior written license from STAR, may publish, provide or disseminate to any person or entity, inter alia, any of the following proprietary content relating to the BCCI Events:
– 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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: star@copyrightintegrity.com.
7. If you wish to syndicate or obtain a license to the Exclusive Rights from STAR, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Ajit Mohan at **** or call ****.

We thank you for your understanding in relation to the above.
Yours faithfully,
Deepak Jacob
President & General Counsel
Legal & Regulatory Affairs
STAR INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED

Note: contact information redacted

Our coverage of this case:

24 Aug, 2012: Don’t Use Live Scores, Ball-By-Ball Alerts For Ind-NZ Cricket Series, STAR Tells App Devs
21 Sep, 2012: STAR Takes Cricbuzz Founder & OnMobile To Court Over Cricket Updates
21 Nov, 2012: Delhi High Court Says Cricket Updates Go Into Public Domain After 2 Min; Implications
22 Nov, 2012: The Digital Rights That BCCI Had Granted STAR & What Happened To Exclusivity
4 Feb, 2013: How STAR Is Claiming Rights Over Cricket Scores
15 Mar, 2013: On The Delhi High Court Judgment Granting STAR Rights To Cricket Scores – Part 1
15 Mar, 2013: On The Delhi High Court Judgment Granting STAR Rights To Cricket Scores – Part 2
20 Mar, 2013: STAR Sends Notices To App Developers After Delhi HC Judgment Grants Cricket Score Rights
23 Mar, 2013: Interim Stay In STAR Cricket Case Allows Scores On Mobile
26 Mar, 2013: On The Confusion Over The Interim Arrangement In STAR Cricket Scores Case
4 Sep, 2013: Hot News: STAR’s Claim Over Rights To Cricket Scores Rejected By Delhi High Court
7 Oct 2013: STAR Gets Interim Injunction From Supreme Court of India In Cricket’s Hot News Case

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