bcciTheir tackling of footage violations by TV broadcasters might have been worked out but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and rights holders in different countries continue to face the larger threat of illegal online streaming of matches.

Wall Street Journal calls attention to the burst in illegal streaming of matches online post the launch of the Twenty-20 World Cup and Indian Premier League forms. It quotes Christopher Stokes, chairman of NetResult, a London-based firm that released a 2008 report on existing illegal streams of sports: one match attracted 70,000 illegal viewers.

Indian Sites For Cricket Streaming; Safe Harbor?

A simple search for free sites to watch cricket gave us Crictime.com, Livecricket.Bollym4u.com, Anycricket.com, Bightcricket.com, Livefeedonline.com, Cricketlinks.org and there are hundreds more flash sites that are deleted after a match such as T20Dekho.Blogspot.com. A blog has a list of sites that one can use to track cricket here, some of the sites listed being legal sources.

One such site, DesiTV, proffers a disclaimer: ‘We must first declare that we DONT stream Sports live actions. We just share the links we found through internet and that too legal (see disclaimers of Sopcast, Ustream, Freedocast, Justin TV…Etc) and put it at one place name Www.Desi-tv.net. All broadcaster allow to embed the live video legally and we do the same. All videos linked to here are short excerpts in streaming format intended solely for nonprofit educational news reporting to promote the game.’

This appears to be a case of a platform making the assertion that as it is merely embedding a live video stream, and hence making the case that the source of the stream is liable for illegal streaming, if at all, and not the platform. (read: How India’s New IT Act Affects User Generated And Copyright Content)

Sopcast and Ustream are the source of most free streaming links on the Internet. But the free sites, in their ignorance of copyrights, propogate the links and gullible viewers are taken in. These sites do not offer great quality video, nor do they have any value-add. They offer a free pass to an addictive sport and for many, quality might not be a requisite.

How BCCI Should Deal With Online Piracy

BCCI will have to take firm steps with the cyber crime arm of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to bar these illegal websites. The launch of its own online channel BCCI.tv would help matters, but there has been no update on it for a while now. The cricket board needs to send a detailed, clear message to users from both India and abroad about the consequences. More needs to be done than getting top cricketers to appear on anti-piracy advertisements to inform online users.

Digital rights for Cricket are bringing in the money, but there’s a danger in the value of the deals dropping significantly if rights of buyers aren’t protected: As MediaNama readers may recall, the official portal rights for the Indian Premier League, which NASDAQ listed Live Current Media had bought for $50 million, were finally negotiated down to $20.75 million. Netlinkblue Holdings is also believed to have paid $50 million for live streaming and mobile rights to the IPL for 10 years and has since divided and distributed the rights in bits to other companies: Channel 2 Group bought rights for broadcasting commentary (specifically) of ICC World T20 championship over the Internet for $5 million and partnered with ESPNCricinfo to launch Cricket Radio.

Despite the lack of transparency in distribution and sub-distribution of these rights and the number of participating firms overall, the bottom line is that millions of dollars are on the line, and they need to protect their revenue streams.

Related

NBCU Ties Up With Ten Sports For Cricket Streaming; Vdopia Ad Sales Partner; Challenge
Live Current Media Sells IPL Portal Rights, Cricket.com; Exits Cricket Biz
NBCU To Launch Sports Video Streaming Site In India: Report
Cricket Launches: Netlinkblue – T20.com; Contests2Win – Cricket Bookie