In a new twist to the row over sending cricket updates through SMS, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has questioned the authority of the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) as the governing body controlling the game of cricket in India. In a missive to the BCCI, the cellular operators said that cricket has been played in the country for over 100 years and BCCI is only a `society that organises cricket for profit-making.
The COAI letter comes in the wake of a legal notice sent by the BCCI against cellular operators for offering cricket updates of the ongoing India-England series to their subscribers through SMS. The BCCI notice had also asked operators to refrain from similar activities in future without obtaining prior permission of the Board.
Responding to the BCCI notice, cellular operators said, "Cricket has been played in India for over a century and it is shocking that BCCI can seek to claim property rights over the awareness of the game, and the scores and information on who is batting and who is out, or on so-called "live instant information" or "current events." These are matters that are within the public domain and you cannot claim a right over these. Such a property right has not been recognised by any statute in India."
COAI further added "claims that it is the "central Body for governing and controlling the game of cricket in India" and is "responsible for organising all the international cricket matches to be played in India" were pompous, untrue and denied.
BCCI is a mere society involved in the activity of organising cricket matches for profit. It holds no statutory backing or `central' or exclusive status. Cricket is just a game, and cannot be privatised by BCCI, to the exclusion of anybody."
COAI said that BCCI had been licensing out television rights and audio rights, not as Intellectual Property Rights, but only as rights as the organiser of the event to permit or disallow entry into the stadium with heavy equipment, and to utilise space and infrastructure for the purpose of filming the match or recording the commentary.