Premier Injunction for the Premier League : Viacom18 knocks out IPL Pirates with Dynamic+ Injunction

Plaintiff, Viacom 18 Media Private Limited entered into a Media Rights Agreement with BCCI, securing exclusive Digital Media Rights and Television Rights for IPL events from 2023 to 2027. Through the said agreement, Viacom enjoys broadcast production rights which are contemplated under Section 37 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

Various internet service providers hosting rogue websites that upload pirated content, Domain Name Registrars, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) are listed as Defendants in this case.

The present suit pertains to Viacom’s apprehension that once IPL matches begin, the Defendants will likely engage in illegally disseminating the cricket matches.

Although initial injunctions were granted on various previous occasions, a significant number of rogue websites continue to illegally disseminate sporting events. Hence, Viacom approached the Delhi High Court seeking a dynamic+ injunction emphasizing the need to restrain such rogue websites on a real-time basis.

Viacom prayed for this specifically designed injunction to target not only existing rogue websites but also any similar ones that may emerge during IPL events. The dynamic+ injunction would ensure that rogue websites that emerge are promptly blocked and removed, thereby preventing them from transmitting or communicating unauthorized signals of the cricket matches.

After considering the circumstances, the Court recognized the significance of Viacom’s exclusive license to broadcast the matches and stated that unauthorized dissemination of the matches through rogue websites undermines the substantial financial investment made by Viacom and poses a threat to its revenue stream.

Additionally, given the nature of the illegalities, the Court noted that failure to grant an injunction at this stage would cause irreparable harm to Viacom. Rogue websites engaged in piracy present a recurring threat, necessitating proactive judicial intervention to prohibit such illegal communication. Owing to the fast-paced nature of the digital landscape, the legal remedies must remain robust and effective in curtailing copyright infringement and the Court must be proactive in updating, adapting, and modifying its directions to address these challenges effectively.

Hence, in view of the above-mentioned circumstances, the Court granted an ex-parte ad interim injunction restraining the Defendants from communicating, streaming and hosting IPL events in any manner whatsoever. The Court also directed Viacom to communicate details of infringing websites to the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for immediate issuance of blocking orders. Internet Service Providers were also instructed to take necessary steps to block such websites without delay.

Relevant paragraphs

“15.7. Thus, there is an urgent need to restrain such rogue websites on a real time basis, without requiring parties to first approach the Court by filing affidavits in respect of each such website which starts unauthorizedly disseminating/ telecasting matches. Such a lag would result in the website being successful in their illegal activities and the Plaintiff’s rights would be infringed before it is possible for any action to be taken. Accordingly, drawing from the approach taken by this Court in Universal City Studios LLC v. Dotmovies.baby1 , Plaintiff seeks a ‘Dynamic +’ injunction to ensure protection of the Plaintiff’s rights over works mentioned in the plaint as well as any other protected content generated during the pendency of the suit proceedings. In this regard, reliance is also placed on the ‘European Commission Recommendation dated 4th May, 2023 on Combating Online Piracy of Sports And Other Live Events’, which also highlights the need for urgent action to block illegal dissemination of copyrighted content.”

“18. The dynamic and ever-evolving nature of the digital landscape necessitates that court orders are not static, but evolve in tandem with the technological advancements and challenges posed by the virtual domain. The legal remedies must remain robust and effective in curtailing copyright infringement, particularly in the fast-paced environment of the internet. Courts must, therefore, be proactive in updating, adapting, and modifying their directions to address these challenges effectively. In the absence of such adaptive legal measures, the rights of intellectual property holders stand at risk of being undermined, rendering their intellectual property rights ineffectual. It is thus essential for the legal framework to remain vigilant and responsive to the challenges presented by digital piracy, ensuring that the protections afforded to copyright and intellectual property are not only theoretical but also enforceable and practical in safeguarding the rights and interests of the rightful owners. In Universal City Studios (supra), this Court has elucidated on this issue, relevant portion whereof is extracted hereinbelow:

“17. Any injunction granted by a Court of law ought to be effective in nature. The injunction ought to also not merely extend to content which is past content created prior to the filing of the suit but also to content which may be generated on a dayto-day basis by the Plaintiffs. In a usual case for copyright infringement, the Court firstly identifies the work, determines the Copyright of the Plaintiff in the said work, and thereafter grants an injunction. However, owing to the nature of the illegalities that rogue websites induldge in, there is a need to pass injunctions which are also dynamic qua the Plaintiffs as well, as it is seen that upon any film or series being released, they may be immediately uploaded on the rogue websites, causing severe and instant monetary loss. Copyright in future works comes into existence immediately upon the work being created, and Plaintiffs may not be able to approach the Court for each and every film or series that is produced in the future, to secure an injunction against piracy. XXX

19. As innovation in technology continues, remedies to be granted also ought to be calibrated by Courts. This is not to say that in every case, an injunction qua future works can be granted. Such grant of an injunction would depend on the fact situation that arises and is placed before the Court.

20. In the facts and circumstances as set out above, an ex parte ad interim injunction is granted restraining the Defendants, who are all rogue websites, from in any manner streaming, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public and/or communicating to the public any copyrighted content of the Plaintiffs including future works of the Plaintiffs, in which ownership of copyright is undisputed, through their websites identified in the suit or any mirror/redirect websites or alphanumeric variations thereof including those websites which are associated with the Defendants’ websites either based on the name, branding, identity or even source of content. To keep pace with the dynamic nature of the infringement that is undertaken by hydra-headed websites, this Court has deemed it appropriate to issue this ‘Dynamic+ injunction’ to protect copyrighted works as soon as they are created, to ensure that no irreparable loss is caused to the authors and owners of copyrighted works, as there is an imminent possibility of works being uploaded on rogue websites or their newer versions immediately upon the films/shows/series etc. The Plaintiffs are permitted to implead any mirror/redirect/alphanumberic variations of the websites identified in the suit as Defendants Nos.1 to 16 including those websites which are associated with the Defendants Nos.1 to 16, either based on the name, branding, identity or even source of content, by filing an application for impleadment under Order I Rule 10 CPC in the event such websites merely provide new means of accessing the same primary infringing websites that have been injuncted. The Plaintiffs are at liberty to also file an appropriate application seeking protection qua their copyrighted works, including future works, if the need so arises. Upon filing such applications before the Registrar along with an affidavit with sufficient supporting evidence seeking extension of the injunction to such websites, to protect the content of the Plaintiffs, including future works, the injunction shall become operational against the said websites and qua such works. If there is any work in respect of which there is any dispute as to ownership of copyright, an application may be moved by the affected party before the Court, to seek clarification.”

Citation: Viacom 18 Media Private Limited vs John Doe & Ors, Delhi High Court, 22nd March, 2024, CS(COMM) 254/2024

Authored by Ms. Ilana Baruah, Consulting & Strategy Team, BananaIP Counsels

Reviewed and confirmed by Ms. Kavya Sadashivan, Consulting & Strategy Team, BananaIP Counsels.


The case note/s in this blog post have been written by IP Attorneys at BananaIP Counsels based on their review and understanding of the Judgments. It may be noted that other IP attorneys and experts in the field may have different opinions about the cases or arrive at different conclusions therefrom. It is advisable to read the Judgments before making any decisions based on the case notes.

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