MediaNama has learned that Cellcast, a Canaan Partners funded mobile VAS company, has the acquired rights to “IPL Mobile Content” for live updates, commentary, scores of matches, trivia and mobile based contests, including news, from the Indian Premier League.
These rights pertain to SMS (Text) based updates, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and USSD services. K.S. Venkatesan, VP Finance for Cellcast confirmed the development. Cellcast CEO Pankaj Thakkar could not be reached for comment since he is currently in South Africa.
This should put an end to the confusion around the SMS rights – even Telecom Operators have been asking around for inputs on who exactly owns the rights. We asked Venkatesan a few questions in order to clarify a few things related to rights:
Can news channels and media companies not update their mobile subscribers without tying up with you? Once the match is live, isn’t the information in the public domain?
The information does not go into public domain for the first 8 minutes. After that it goes to the public domain. The broadcaster has rights to show the match live on TV, but for SMS updates there has to be a delay.
What about Telecom operators and Cricket subscription packs?
They will need our permission to do a live update.
What about Zenga, which has Live Streaming Rights for the mobile, and a product called CrickZenga which will have live updates on an application?
Zenga are our supporters, and they are updating on a platform called WAP. They are also doing live streaming on the mobile, something like IPTV. But on SMS, IVR and USSD, we have the rights.
What about services like SMS GupShup, where users can update match scores on the mobile? Or if users update on Twitter, and that is sent as a live update via SMS?
It will definitely be a violation, since until the first 8 minutes are up, only we have the right to update live.
Do you also have rights to wallpapers as well?
Our rights are for IPL Mobile Content, and we are working with Zenga. In case there is a Cricket match and there is a photograph or wallpaper of Sachin Tendulkar hitting a shot in an IPL match, it is official IPL content, and we have rights to IPL Mobile Content in India. If there is a photo of Sachin Tendulkar with the Mumbai Indians, but not during a Cricket match, then it is theirs.
Update: Reader “flip” reminds us of a 2006 case where the Madras High Court had passed an interim injunction restraining 18 companies from providing SMS updates. More on that case at Television Point, and and an update at Business Standard.
Also, as an aside: it appears that Business Standard has allowed online access to archival content. This archival content was previously behind a paid subscription wall.
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