Tokyo Olympics: Sony Obtains High Court Order to Prevent Piracy

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, is being held mostly without spectators but the reach of global TV will ensure it is seen around the world. With the assistance of a High Court order, Sony Pictures wants to make sure that viewers in India enjoy the games without resorting to illegal streaming platforms.

Toky OlympicsFollowing massive preparations that were thrown into turmoil due to the global pandemic, this Friday the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony will finally get underway.

For just over two weeks the sporting action will largely take place without spectators but a global audience in the billions is set to watch the spectacle unfold on TV and via numerous streaming services.

In India, Sony Pictures holds the exclusive rights to broadcast the games and with help from the court, wants to ensure that people don’t turn to unlicensed platforms instead.

Sony’s Pre-emptive Legal Action

According to an application before the Delhi High Court, Sony Pictures owns the Sony Ten Network of channels including Sony TEN 1, Sony TEN 1 HD, Sony TEN 2, Sony TEN 2 HD, Sony TEN 3, Sony TEN 3 HD, Sony TEN 4, Sony TEN 4 HD, Sony SIX, Sony SIX HD.

The company acquired the exclusive rights from the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the games in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives. However, Sony has reason to believe that the games will be broadcast illegally via dozens of unlicensed websites and wants to prevent this where possible.

Representing Sony Pictures, Advocate Abhishek Malhotra told the Court that more than 40 websites and over 30 multi-system and cable operators are likely to play a part in distributing pirated content so should be restrained, especially since these entities had been involved in similar situations in the past.

High Court Hands Down Ex-Parte Interim Order

In his submissions, Malhotra said that a case involving torrent site laid out the parameters for a ‘rogue website’, noting that 47 websites listed in the order fit that description so are eligible for blocking.

In its interim order handed down July 19, the Court appears to agree with this characterization.

The judge restrained the first 47 defendants (only is specifically named) from “hosting, streamlining [sic], reproducing, distributing, making available to the public and/or communicating to the public or facilitating the same on their websites through the internet in any manner whatsoever, any cinematograph work, content, program and show or event in which the plaintiffs have copyright.”

The injunction also covers the possibility that mirror or proxy sites may appear to circumvent the ban. These are preemptively included too, even though they may not currently exist. Additionally, 30 service providers are ordered to block access to the 47 ‘rogue’ websites, including any mirrors or proxies they may deploy to help users gain access.

Order to Remain in Place Until September

The ex-parte interim order handed down Monday will remain in force until September 29, when the next hearing in the case is scheduled to take place. By then the 2020 Olympics will be over but considering the injunction now in force covers all Sony content, there may be issues that still need to be resolved.

The Delhi High Court order can be found here (pdf)


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