Madras HC blocks TV cable, internet providers from streaming FIFA World Cup matches

The Madras High Court has restrained the cable and internet service providers in certain countries from telecasting the football matches to be held at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar from November 20.

Justice M Sundar granted the injunction on Friday while passing interim orders on an application arising out of a civil suit from VIACOM-18 Media.

The petitioner has made out a prima facie case for the grant of the injunction, the judge said. It is the owner of the copyright in the sporting event. It will lead to an irreversible situation and therefore, irreparable injury incapable of compensation parameter has also been satisfied, the judge said.

“Therefore, there shall be an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents herein or any other person or entity from infringing the copyright in the sporting event ‘FIFA World Cup 2022’ in any manner so as to prevent copying, transmission, communication, displaying, releasing, showing, hosting, streaming, uploading, downloading, exhibiting, playing and exhibition of the event,” the judge said.

For this purpose, if blocking of websites/web pages becomes necessary, the authorities concerned shall do so. The interim injunction shall operate for a period of four weeks, ie, upto December 16 on the above terms, the judge added and posted the matter for further hearing on that day.

Earlier, the plaintiff submitted that it was granted license and various media rights, including exclusive TV and radio, mobile transmission rights for the territories of of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and by the Federation Internationale De Football Association (FIFA) qua FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

In this situation, several cable and internet service providers are involved in illegal activities and unauthorized retransmitting, recording, streaming, audio-visual clips and full sports event that are transmitted by the plaintiff and such activities would cause heavy loss, damage and prejudice to the plaintiff. It has exclusive rights to broadcast the event.

It has invested substantial sums of money in acquiring the license and exclusive rights, according to the plea.

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