The Delhi High Court recently held that STAR India Pvt. Ltd. (STAR) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are precluded from asserting any exclusive rights over cricket scores and match information. In the process, the Court set aside the decision of a single judge of the same Court granting limited interim injunction in favour of STAR and the BCCI..The judgment was delivered by a Division Bench comprising of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Najmi Waziri on August 30, 2013..The case pertained to three suits filed by STAR against Akuate Internet Services Pvt. Ltd., OnMobile Global Limited and Idea Cellular Ltd. (Appellants). The suits had initially been dismissed by Justice Valmiki Mehta. Subsequently, upon appeal by the BCCI and STAR, Justice Valmiki Mehta’s judgment was set aside on procedural grounds and the matter was directed to be adjudicated afresh..The matter was then heard by Justice ML Mehta, who passed an order on March 13, 2013 granting a limited interim injunction in favour STAR and BCCI. He also directed that the Appellants need to take due authorization or a license from STAR or the BCCI to send SMS/MMS cricket scores and updates within 15 minutes of the broadcast..The Appellants had appealed against this limited injunction..STAR contended that they had ‘property rights’ over match information against competitors who were commercially exploiting such match information by disseminating it contemporaneously through SMS alerts, for a premium fee. It, therefore, sought the protection of property rights in contemporaneous dissemination of match information through Mobile SMS updates..Relying on the “hot news” doctrine STAR contended that.“Contemporaneous dissemination of match information is targeted at exploiting the high curiosity of a cricket lover to receive instantaneous information of an on-going match….. Match Information has commercial value, and has all the trappings of “hot news”…..”.STAR also argued that,.“In terms of first principles, it is the person who has brought into existence a product which has a demand in the market, who is entitled to the exclusion of all others to exploit the revenue streams arising out of such product and realize the fruits of its product (in this case, a cricket match).”.The Court after hearing the parties held that.“If Parliament had intended to give protection to facts, “time sensitive information” or events (such as match information), there would have been conscious protection of those rights by express provision. Therefore, the exhaustive nature of the regime in Chapter VIII precludes, by its very nature, any claim for protection over and above what is expressly granted by its provisions.”.It therefore held that the,.“Rights claimed by the plaintiffs, over and above the broadcasting rights, i.e. to prevent others from publishing or sharing match information or facts, for irrespective of commercial or non-commercial use, is precluded by Section 16 of the Copyrights Act; it is also precluded because of the provisions of Chapter VIII of the said Act. If Parliament had intended such rights to exist, they would have been enacted, with suitable mechanisms for their enforcement and effectuation.”.With respect to the “hot news” doctrine, the Court traced the development of its jurisprudence in the United States starting from the case of International News Service v. Associated Press [248 U.S. 215, 39 S.Ct. 68 (1918)] and ending with The Flyonthewall.com Inc v. Barclays Capital Inc. [2011 WL 2437554 (2d Cir. June 20, 2011)]. Stressing upon the “narrow confines of its present existence”, and the “tenuouse basis of the doctrine in the country of its origin”, it held that.“The present avatar (“ghostly presence” a.k.a The Flyonthewall.com) is narrowed to injuncting time sensitive news where both parties are “direct competitors” and not merely where the plaintiff‟s primary service or product is not hot news dissemination, but match organisation or broadcasting of those events. This critical aspect is absent in the present case, as neither Star, nor BCCI engage themselves primarily in match news dissemination through SMS.”.Regarding the contention of STAR and BCCI that they had a property right under common law over match information the Court held that,.“Creating property (or quasi-property) rights in information…….stands to upset the statutory balance carefully created by the legislature through the Copyright Act. In a domain where Parliament has stepped in to create a statutory regime, an exercise of creating ‘supplementary’ rights in common law would well result in obstructing the legislative scheme, as would be the case here. The argument of BCCI that it is under a duty (by relying on the Supreme Court judgment in Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting)to monetize broadcasting and other rights, and is doing exactly that, by permitting Star to monetize hot-news by licensing mobile rights is misconceived, to put it mildly. One can “monetize” or license only that over which one has property rights. Neither Star nor BCCI can be permitted to say that mentioning “mobile” rights and auctioning them, would ipso facto legitimize the parcelling away of right to disseminate information, without first establishing that the right or exclusive domain over such rights existed in the first instance.”.The Court also turned down the contentions of STAR based on the unfair competition and unjust enrichment and held that STAR or the BCCI,.“Cannot claim any exclusive property or other such rights to injunct the publication of match information, or hot-news, as claimed by it, irrespective of whether the object of such third party is to publish such information for commercial gain or without any such motive.”.Accepting the contention of the Appellants that their rights under Article 19 (1)(a) and 19(1)(g) cannot be interfered with in the absence of law, the Court overturned the single Judge’s ruling that reasonable restrictions can be imposed on such rights by the Court in the absence of law to that effect. Holding that it is for the Legislature to impose such reasonable restrictions, it held that,.“Courts must be cautious in creating doctrines and rights that have such clear implications for constitutional rights, better leaving such matters to the law-making domain of the legislative branch, that may result in a coherent legislation that creates a framework within which any curtailment of Constitutional rights is to take place……. The Constitution visualizes that restrictions, saved by virtue of Articles 19 (2) and 19 (6) are in terms of enacted law, and not judge-declared fiats. Doing what the plaintiff invites this court to do would be to enclose from the public match facts and information which are not protectable in any manner known to law. Such an injunction would tend to insidiously, and in a creeping manner, denude the fundamental right to free speech and dissemination of topical information to members of the public.”.Akuate Internet Services Pvt. Ltd. was represented by a team from Luthra & Luthra led by Partner Gayatri Roy along with members Udit Sood and Akanksha Singh and Senior Advocate Sudhir Chandra. Senior Advocates and Attorneys including Mukul Rohtagi, CA Sundaram, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Gopal Subramaniam, Abhinav Vasisht, Maninder Singh, Parag Tripathi, Amit Sibal, Saikrishna Rajagopal, Radha Rangaswamy and Gopal Jain appeared for STAR and the BCCI at various stages..A copy of the judgment is given below.