Tag Archives: cricket

Allowing access versus control of facts

BCCI provides access and accreditation to media entities that seek to cover cricket matches. Cricinfo and other websites are routinely denied media accreditation for India’s home series (it’s another matter that all other boards and the ICC invite Cricinfo into the media box and appreciate the role they it plays in the game’s global coverage). BCCI are within their right to do this, and Cricinfo’s reporters often cover such games from the stands.

But does BCCI als0 have control over the facts that emerge from a match they organise? Medianama’s Nikhil Pahwa asks some uncomfortable questions in an informative editorial that appeared on the Times of India today. The full article, with additional informative links, is also available on the Medianama website.

The ‘‘Hot News” doctrine says an event organiser has complete ownership of any news related to that event while it is hot and fresh. Because of that, only an entity that has been sold the rights can report it live. This is different from broadcast and images, because a video clip or photograph belong to the entity creating it. Copyright exists in what you create, not in the event that it is based on. Because copyright cannot exist in facts, anyone can report them.

While the organiser of an event (say, the BCCI, a company, or even a political party) has rights to allow access to an event, it doesn’t have control over facts from it. Today a journalist can be prevented from attending a rally, but can’t be prevented from reporting live, perched on top a building overlooking the rally. ”Hot News” gives control to an organiser to force a media publication, dependent on him for access to information, to play nice and not be critical.

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“BCCI holds the entire, absolute rights”

The legal strategy that was employed by the STAR lawyers in a case against IDEA cellular last year used a concept called “Quasi Property Rights” and the critical point of argument was the following, which should disturb every fan:

“Quasi Property Rights” are held by the entity that organizes an event: that BCCI holds the entire, absolute rights for the event.

and

 score is relevant for 5-10 min, and it has all the attributes of a commercial property…..Time sensitive information has the capability of becoming commercially viable for exploitation,

In other words, information related to the sport is now commercial property, and the rights to it are completely held by BCCI (a “non-profit”), ready to be exploited. This is likely the same strategy that will be employed by the STAR lawyers in the new case against Cricinfo and Cricbuzz. More reporting on this issue by MediaNama from last year is here.

STAR India files fresh case against CricInfo and Cricbuzz

According to media reports Star India has filed a case against CricInfo and Cricbuzz. Note that this is a separate case from the one that Sony filed that we reported earlier and is scheduled to come up for hearing on March 13th.

The Delhi High Court website lists cases CS (OS) 611/2014 as filed against ESPN Digital Media (India), which is ESPN Cricinfo, and CS (OS) 612/2014 as filed against Akuate Internet Services, which is Cricbuzz. The case comes up for hearing next on the 13th of March 2013.

Full report on the developments by MediaNama can be read here

Case files: Sony MSM v ESPNcricinfo

On January 21 2014, Sony MSM (the plaintiff) contested ESPNcricinfo’s (the defendant) right to provide “live and contemporaneous text commentary” during India’s tour of New Zealand. The case file for the interim order that the court issued can be accessed from this link to the Delhi High Court’s website. This is the gist:

Learned counsel for the plaintiff contends that on 19.1.2014, during the live broadcast of the first match in India-New Zealand Cricket series, the plaintiff learnt that defendants, without any authorization from the plaintiff, on its website i.e. http://www.espncricinfo.com are providing live and contemporaneous text commentary and live contemporaneous audio commentary of the said first match in Hindi and English languages. In the first match, which was played on 19.1.2014, the defendant had given ball-to-ball commentary on their website. Print outs of the impugned website, in this context, have been placed by the plaintiff at pages 23 to 60 of the documents. Counsel further contends that since the plaintiff has exclusive media rights, the defendants cannot be permitted to invade into the rights of the plaintiff and provide ball-to-ball commentary on their websites. It is further contended that the defendant seeks to reap profits without making any investment and without obtaining any license thereby making illegal gains at the cost of the plaintiff. Counsel, in these circumstances, prays for ex parte ad interim injunction against the defendant.

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Live Mint: The tussle over live cricket scores

Live Mint have reported quite comprehensively on the issue. Scroll down to the bottom of the article for the comment posted by Nikhil Pahwa (founder of Medianama), which is as instructive as the article itself. Excerpts from the piece:

“It really is a legal question. However, it will define how these rights will be viewed in this country. Especially now, considering that the battle (between content providers) is being fought across devices, especially on mobile. As broadband speeds improve, consumption of content will move to different devices. Lines are also blurring between broadband and broadcast. So while it is still early days, people are trying to establish boundaries. The judgement will define how certain fortunes change over the next 10 years,” said Jehil Thakkar, partner and head of media and entertainment practice, KPMG India. 

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TOI: How can facts be anybody’s property?

The Times of India has carried a very good article explaining the issue. Here are some interesting bits:

In short, the court’s order rested on two crucial pillars — that the public cannot be denied access to facts so casually, and that the very question of whether there are any exclusive rights here to be sold is extremely debatable. 

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An online petition to save the live scorecard

If you agree with the thoughts in this blog, please sign the online petition on avaaz.org. We might be able to generate enough noise with it to show the courts how much the live scorecard matters to us.

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