Madras High Court restrains over 12,000 websites from illegally broadcasting FIFA World Cup 2022

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The Madras High Court on Friday granted an interim injunction in favour of Viacom18 and restrained more than 12,000 websites from illegally broadcasting the FIFA World Cup 2022 [Viacom18 Media Private Limited v Bharath Sanchar Nigam Limited and others].

While granting the interim injunction, Justice M Sundar said that Viacom had shown that it was the sole owner of the copyright for the event.

“With regard to prima facie case, there is no difficulty in accepting prima facie that the plaintiff is the owner of the Copyright in the Sporting Event. In Terms of balance of convenience, if this interim order is not granted now, it would result in alleged piracy being completed in all and every aspect of the matter,” the Court said.

Viacom18 had filed a suit before the High Court claiming that it had the exclusive rights to broadcast the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It had all the requisite broadcasting rights including television rights, broadband transmission rights, mobile transmissions rights and non exclusive radio rights for the event.

Viacom submitted a letter issued by FIFA in this regard confirming its rights. It also submitted a list of around 12,037 websites that it claimed were infringing upon its exclusive copyrights.

Taking note of such submissions, the Court said that if it did not grant an interim injunction then irreparable injury would be caused to the plaintiff Viacom.

The Court, therefore, restrained the respondent websites, internet service provider, or any other person or entity from infringing Viacom’s copyright over the FIFA World Cup sporting event “to prevent copying, transmission, communication, displaying, releasing, showing, hosting, streaming, uploading, downloading, exhibiting, playing and exhibition of the sporting event”.

The Court also gave liberty to the respondent ISPs to block the infringing websites.

The Court will hear the matter further on December 16.

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