In a landmark order, the Delhi High Court has ordered in favour of ESPN Star Sports (ESS), as the official broadcaster of the India tour of Australia. This order follows the suit filed by ESS for permanent injunction against cable operators across the country, against unauthorised broadcast of the cricketing event. This order now restrains all cable operators from unauthorised telecast of the event through their cable networks.
The India tour of Australia includes four test matches, followed by a triangular ODI tournament involving India, Australia and Sri Lanka, and a Twenty20 match between India and Australia. Star Cricket will exclusively telecast the test series, while ESS will broadcast the triangular tournament. The tournament commences from the last week of December 2007, and will go on till March 2008.
In its suit before the Delhi High Court, ESS claimed that it had the sole and exclusive rights from Cricket Australia (CA) to telecast CA properties exclusively in India. ESS contented that it expected rampant piracy in certain parts of the country.
With this order in place, anyone showing India tour of Australia through any unauthorised means or any other channel will be held in contempt of court and liable for prosecution. The Court has also permitted ESPN to take action against all other cable operators not party to the suit but found to be utilising the feed of ESPN and Star Cricket without license.
Comenting on the order, Rajesh Kaul, Vice President-Affiliate Sales, ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd, said, “This is a very positive verdict as it gives a clear signal that piracy will not be tolerated. We will have a team of observers across the country to ensure that there is no piracy. In case we spot any, we will align with the police to bring the guilty to the book.”
Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul of the Delhi High Court, prima facie being satisfied by the material disclosed to the Court by ESPN, restrained the 100 named cable operators from transmitting and/or telecasting the tournament in any manner whatsoever without license from ESPN. The said cable operators have been restrained from telecasting/transmitting Fox Sports and Super Sports or any other channel, or in any other manner infringing the copyright/re-broadcast right of ESS.
The Delhi High Court has also injuncted unnamed cable operators who may be found to be indulging in cable piracy of cricket matches played during the forthcoming India tour of Australia. The concerned police and authorities have been directed to render all assistance to ESPN to enforce the order of injunction.