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On The Confusion Over The Interim Arrangement In STAR Cricket Scores Case

There appeared to be some confusion about what exactly the Delhi High Court means by “status quo”. Last week, on the basis of information received from Luthra & Luthra, representing Cricbuzz in the case over Mobile rights to Cricket Scores, we had reported that the status quo prior to the judgment had been reinstated, and mobile companies could provide Cricket scores. Yesterday, we received a similar statement from OnMobile Global, also a party in this case (see below).

However, we also received a “clarification” from STAR saying that our earlier report, which suggests that mobile operators have been permitted to provide live score updates is erroneous and we should “make necessary amendments to your article or remove it in entirety to avoid miscommunication.”

We had requested STAR for a copy of the Delhi High Court order, and they sent us this link to an upload from Spicy IP: document. As per a certified copy of the same that we subsequently received from Cricbuzz, the order states that the status quo should be maintained, saying that “Till the next date of hearing, as a purely interim arrangement without in any manner expressing opinion on the merits of the dispute, the status quo, as existed on the date of the impugned order shall be maintained by the parties provided each of the appellant deposits Rs 10 Lacs in Court within a week. The amounts so deposited shall be kept in separate short term Fixed Deposits by the Registrar to be renewed from time to time till further orders of this Court. The appellants are directed to maintain true and lawful accounts of the receipts in respect of the SMS alerts that they provide to the subscribers. The same shall be made available to the court as and when necessary.

Here’s how I read this – the appellants in this case are Akuate Internet Services (Cricbuzz) Idea Cellular and OnMobile Global. Services would have stopped after the previous Delhi High Court order. When the Division Bench asks for the status quo to be maintained and asks the appelants to maintain records of SMS alerts, it logically follows that alerts are allowed (until the next hearing).

There might have been a confusion if only the first part was taken into account, because the status quo on that date could refer to both the status before or after the judgment was pronounced, but the second half, in my opinion explains it. So I don’t see how STAR considers our report erroneous. In case STAR disagrees with this assessment, we’ll be happy to publish their response as an update. Do read their clarification to us (below). In it’s email, STAR has also pointed towards another lawsuit in the Delhi High Court, which probably should have a bearing on the interpretation of this order.

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To be on the safe side, if you’re a service provider, you should check with your lawyers before taking a decision.

Cricbuzz Statement: “On March 16, 2013 Cricbuzz preferred an appeal against the partial injunction order of March 13, 2013 passed by the Ld. Single Judge. The appeal was listed before the Hon’ble Division Bench of the Delhi High Court on March 20, which after hearing preliminary arguments has ordered parties to maintain status quo as existing prior to the order of the Ld. Single Judge. The said order has been passed as an interim arrangement, is subject to a deposit by the appellant and until the next date of hearing. The appeal is now coming up for final disposal on April 29, 2013.” – from Gayatri Roy, Partner at Luthra & Luthra, on behalf of Cricbuzz

OnMobile Statement: “The order passed by the Delhi High Court on March 13, 2013 on the Mobile Rights for Cricket Matches, has been put on status quo until April 29, 2013 by the Divisional Bench. Status quo has been restored until said time and the fifteen minute delay imposed in disseminating live updates is not applicable”.

Clarification from STAR:

“Dear Mr. Pahwa:

This bears reference to your article — Interim Stay in Cricket Case Allows Scores on Mobile – published on March 23rd which erroneously suggests that mobile operators have been permitted to provide live score updates.

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Star India would like to clarify that it will be incorrect to interpret the Honourable Delhi High Court’s order dated March 20th, 2013 to suggest that mobile operators have been allowed to provide ball-by-ball score alerts.

The judgment of the Division Bench on March 20th, 2013 has not stayed, modified, suspended and/or upset an order by the Learned Single Bench on March 13th, 2013.  The Division Bench, on the contrary, rejected a request seeking a stay on the Learned Single Bench’s order.

The Honourable Division Bench, without expressing any opinion on merits, had directed the parties to the suit proceedings to maintain a status quo as on March 13th, 2013, subject to each of the Appellants/Defendants depositing Rs. 10 Lakhs within one week from the date of the order.

This was purely an interim arrangement applicable to the parties to the proceedings with respect to the last test match in the India-Australia series.Star India’s broadcast rights, as determined on March 13th, have not been stayed, set aside or disturbed by the Division Bench.

In a separate suit, the Delhi High Court on March 21st, 2013 passed a similar order directing Reliance Communications Ltd. to deposit an amount of Rs. 40 lakhs in the court, failing which both Reliance Communications and OnMobile Global Ltd. will be barred from providing live score updates of the Indian Premier League’s Season 6.

These two separate orders make it aptly clear that the Court isn’t restricting an event organiser/broadcaster from monetising its rights and has therefore asked the parties involved to deposit money for providing live score alerts until the suits are settled.

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Star India would like to reiterate that it is incorrect to suggest that the order of the Single Judge has been stayed, modified, vacated and/or upset by the Division Bench and would request you to either make necessary amendments to your article or remove it in entirety to avoid miscommunication.

Best regards,
Parul Sharma
Head- Corporate Communication
Star India”

Do read our complete coverage of STAR’s attempt that getting mobile rights to Cricket scores:

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

(Updates: Luthra & Luthra have informed us that their statement is on behalf of Cricbuzz. We’ve updated this post with a reference to that)

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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