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In a legal notice to application developers, “Copyright Integrity International”, an entity which represents BCCI-IPL, has warned application developers against showcasing what it calls “Proprietary content” in their apps. Proprietary content, according to the notice, includes match related content such as scorecards, schedules, commentary and audio-visual footage.

Live content, which isn’t covered by copyright (since no one can own “facts”), is legally referred to as Hot News, and companies try and claim exclusive rights to it for the period for which it is relevant/hot. In this instance, BCCI-IPL and STAR (via Novi Digital), are trying to restrict the usage of some content up until 15 minutes after the occurrence of the event. The Hot News case (read our comprehensive coverage here) has been in a limbo at the Supreme Court of India for a while now. Parties in that case include Cricbuzz (now owned by Times Internet*, Idea Cellular and Onmobile Global).

Also read: What Star India’s acquisition of IPL 2015 digital rights mean for Cricket online

MediaNama readers might remember that Novi Digital, a subsidiary of Star India Private Ltd, had picked up rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) Cricket tournament for 2015, 2016 and 2017, for India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, for an undisclosed amount. The IPL began a couple of days ago, and will continue till the 24th of May, 2016. The notice, which is copied below, is dated 7th April, 2016.

Most of the notice is a copy-paste of a similar notice sent two years ago, for IPL 2014, but there are some differences:

  1. No live or near-live scorecards or match fees, or ball by ball scores or alerts within 15 minutes of updates/alerts from the official broadcaster:“Other than BCCI-IPL, no entity operating or making available an internet portal service, mobile telecommunication service, mobile application service or value added services is entitled without license from BCCI-IPL to publish, provide or disseminate for a charge, fee or other premium, to profit in any other way (including through advertising) from or to otherwise sell or license to any person or entity, inter alia, any of the following IPL Proprietary Content:- ball-by-ball or other score or incident updates or alerts within 15 minutes from the moment that such updates or alerts have been broadcast by the VIVO IPL official broadcaster; or
    – live or near-live match scorecards or match score feeds of any nature.”

    MediaNama’s take: It’s worth noting that these clauses were missing from the notice sent out for the ICC WorldT20 tournament in March, of which MediaNama also has a copy. That notice limited the usage of ICC owned marks and logos on scorecards, and made no mention of live or near-live match scorecards, or ball-by-ball coverage. It is, however, similar to the BCCI notice sent by Star to app developers in 2014. It seems that the definition of what the ICC considers proprietary content differs from what the BCCI thinks it owns.

  2. The rights that STAR/Novi has: Via the notice, we now have a clue about which rights exactly Novi Digital owns:
  • A 5 minute delayed video stream
  • archival audio visual content in the territory
  • producing unilateral coverage and unilateral commentary associated with the event, via radio, internet, television and mobile; and
  • producing scorecards (excluding ball by ball commentary) on the website where it is streaming the matches.

The notice from Copyright International, dated 7th April 2016:

Sirs,

Indian Premier League 2016- Use of logos, trademarks, word marks and proprietary content in marketing promotions by mobile and internet service providers

We represent the legal interests of the BCCI – Indian Premier League (“BCCI-IPL”), a sub-committee unit of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”), and write to you seeking your organisation’s co-operation and support in relation to the upcoming VIVO Indian Premier League 2016 (“VIVO IPL”), scheduled to take place between 9 April, 2016 and 24 May, 2016.

As you are likely aware, in order to stage an event of such scale, the BCCI-IPL contracts with official broadcasters, commercial partners and licensees and, in turn, grants them exclusivity of association with the VIVO IPL, as well as exclusivity of usage of proprietary names (“IPL Names”), proprietary marks and logos (“IPL Marks”), and other proprietary and protected content (“IPL Proprietary Content”). It is incumbent upon the BCCI-IPL to protect this exclusivity and thereby the rights it has granted to its official broadcasters, commercial partners and licensees. The BCCI-IPL is the owner of all IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Proprietary Content.

Through this letter of advance notification, we intend to clarify what constitutes permissible and impermissible activity in relation to the VIVO IPL, so as to prevent any inadvertent infringements of IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Proprietary Content by internet portals, mobile service providers, mobile application platforms and value added service providers.

In this context, we request you to note the following: Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited (“Novi Digital”) has been granted, inter alia, the following rights on the mobile and internet platforms by the BCCI-IPL with respect to the VIVO IPL (“Exclusive Rights”) in the Indian Subcontinent (India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka only) (“Territory”):

• the right to stream live (with 5 minute delay) audiovisual match content and archival audiovisual content from the VIVO IPL in the Territory;

• the right to produce unilateral coverage (any audio-visual coverage by or on behalf of Novi Digital in relation to any match at any VIVO IPL match venue, but excluding any visual or audio-visual material comprising actual match play) and unilateral commentary for transmission and delivery in association with the abovementioned internet and mobile rights by means of radio, internet, television and mobile; and

• the right to make available on the internet website on which Novi Digital is streaming the matches, scorecards (excluding ball-by-ball text commentary) of the VIVO IPL matches.

• Other than the Exclusive Rights granted to Novi Digital, all other mobile, mobile activation and internet rights pertaining to the VIVO IPL in the Territory and outside the Territory, are unconditionally reserved with the BCCI-IPL for exploitation at its sole and absolute discretion.

• Other than BCCI-IPL or Novi Digital (as specified herein), no entity operating or making available an internet portal service, mobile telecommunication service, mobile application service or value added service is entitled without license from BCCI-IPL or Novi Digital (where applicable) to make unlicensed commercial use of any or all of the IPL Names, IPL Marks, and IPL Proprietary Content, other than for activities that are primarily journalistic in nature, activity and scope, and such entity may not commercially associate in any other way, either expressly or impliedly, including through marketing promotions, contests, advertising, fantasy games or other commercial activity, with the BCCI or VIVO IPL;

• Other than BCCI-IPL or Novi Digital (as specified herein), no entity operating or making available an internet portal service, mobile telecommunication service, mobile application service or value added service is entitled without license from BCCI-IPL or Novi Digital (where applicable) to publish, provide or disseminate to any person or entity, inter alia, any of the following IPL Proprietary Content:

– match scorecards or match score feeds using IPL Marks;
– match schedules using IPL Marks;
– mobile applications using proprietary match content or IPL Marks;
– audio commentary; or
– audio-visual match feed or match footage.

• Other than BCCI-IPL, no entity operating or making available an internet portal service, mobile telecommunication service, mobile application service or value added services is entitled without license from BCCI-IPL to publish, provide or disseminate for a charge, fee or other premium, to profit in any other way (including through advertising) from or to otherwise sell or license to any person or entity, inter alia, any of the following IPL Proprietary Content:

– ball-by-ball or other score or incident updates or alerts within 15 minutes from the moment that such updates or alerts have been broadcast by the VIVO IPL official broadcaster; or
– live or near-live match scorecards or match score feeds of any nature.

• Other than BCCI-IPL, no entity operating or making available an internet portal service, mobile telecommunication service, mobile application service or value added service is entitled without license from BCCI-IPL to publish, provide or disseminate to any person or entity, inter alia, mobile content such as SMS, MMS, alerts, games, etc., related to the VIVO IPL.

• You are hereby informed that the BCCI-IPL fully intends to and will enforce its rights against the unlicensed commercial utilisation by third parties of the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Proprietary Content in contravention of the Exclusive Rights granted by the BCCI-IPL to Novi Digital.

• Should you fail to adhere to the above, we will engage with you to bring to your attention the permissible parameters of activity and work with you to resolve the matter. However, should such activities persist, you will be deemed to have knowingly breached the Exclusive Rights granted by the BCCI-IPL to Novi Digital and we will have no other option but to initiate further action, including legal recourse, on behalf of the BCCI-IPL. For your information, the BCCI-IPL has engaged the services of a specialised agency to monitor the usage of IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Proprietary Content by internet portals, mobile telecommunication service provider, mobile application platforms and value added service providers during the VIVO IPL. Further, the VIVO IPL 2016 Brand and Content Protection Guidelines are available for your reference on the official VIVO IPL website: http://www.iplt20.com/ .

As you will understand, the BCCI-IPL must act to protect its and its official broadcasters’, sponsors’ and partners’ rights.

. If you have any questions or enquiries relating to this letter, encounter any difficulty in complying with any of the above or require clarifications as to how you can avoid infringements of BCCI-IPL’s intellectual property rights, please do not hesitate to contact us at: ipl@copyrightintegrity.com.

We thank you for your understanding in relation to the above and look forward to your co-operation in ensuring that premier events of this nature continue to be part of the cricketing calendar.

Sincerely,
R. Gopalakrishna,
Chief Legal Counsel,
Copyright Integrity Advisory (India) Pvt. Ltd.