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In the case of M.S.M. Satellite Singapore Pte Ltd. v Star Cable Network & Others [F.A.O. (OS) 211/2010] the Appellant M.S.M. had a wholely-owned-subsidiary Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd., which in turn had a distributor M.S.M. Discovery Pvt. Ltd., having the exclusive distribution rights over the Sony Set Max Channel in India. The Appellant had acquired “entertainment software” for distributing and broadcasting signals of channels such as Sony Entertainment (Max and SAB) and had also signed a contract with BCCI for exclusive broadcast rights for IPL 2010.
Appellant contended that Respondents had, without obtaining necessary permission from the Appellant as per the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed thereunder, been downloading Appellant’s signals and distributing the same through their network channels to various individuals. It was further alleged that the Respondents required a license along with a decoder to capture, decrypt and transmit/broadcast the Appellant’s signal.
The Appellants had sought a permanent as well as an ex-parte ad-interim injunction to prevent the Respondents from downloading and distributing/broadcasting the signals of Sony Set Max channel. Initially, the court had denied the interim injunction and directed that a Commission be executed to visit the premises of the Respondents and report whether the latter had been telecasting the program of the said channel and the Respondents had also been directed to maintain accounts regarding the telecast of the same.
Mr. Praveen Anand, arguing for the Appellant, contended that the Respondents were carrying out the alleged illegal activities not out in the open, but under the “cover of darkness of secrecy” and there was little chance of the accounts kept being authentic. Hence it would be well-nigh impossible to gauge the extent to which the Respondents’ operation had spread, i.e. in how many houses how many connections they had actually provided for. Moreover, the limited life of the Copyright Broadcasting Reproduction Rights called for a stringent exercise of judicial power in the present case so as to prevent piracy, especially in the light of the fact that with the Commonwealth Games drawing near, the problem of piracy was likely to increase manifold.
The Delhi High Court held that if the Respondents were indeed downloading and broadcasting Sony Set Max channel without having procured the required license from the Appellant, then they would indeed be engaging in piracy and if the absence of license could be proven, then the prima facie case of the Appellant would become so strong as to merit an interim injunction regardless of where the balance of convenience of the Respondents and the viewers might lie.
The Appellant’s counsel also informed the court that the Commission was yet to be executed and indeed, it was difficult to do so unless a person wielding considerable authority is made the Commissioner, for the execution often required assistance from local administration. The Court in this case held that since the matter was still pending before the Single Judge, therefore, the appeal could be disposed of by issuing appropriate directions and clarifying that opposition by the Respondents could be brought before the Single Judge by either an application or a reply to the application filed by the Appellant for interim relief. Moreover, the Court also allowed the interim injunction sought for by the Appellant subject to the Single Judge’s further orders, as well as John Doe/Ashok Kumar Order, prohibiting any other person/organization/body indulging in similar act of piracy regarding the said signal/program of the Appellant qua the IPL tournament in particular.
A Commission was also ordered to be executed to visit the premises of the Respondent and/or any other during the hours IPL matches were being telecast live and seize the receiving and transmitting devices, if it was found that the latter had been downloading Sony Set Max channel signal without proper authorization. The Commission was also mandated to note the telephone calls, if any, received by individuals making a grievance at the telephone installed at the Respondents’ premises, pertaining to signals not being received by the caller. Assistant and Joint Registrars were directed to comprise this Commission and the SHO of the local police station and the concerned D.M. were directed to render assistance to the same.