Saturday, February 11, 2006

Move to vacate stay on SMS cricket scores

The Hindu: Move to vacate stay on SMS cricket scores

On Tuesday, a Chennai company Marksman Marketing Services Pvt Ltd. obtained a stay in the Chennai High Court for mobile phone companies from distributing cricket scores of India-Pakistan series via SMS.

Yesterday (Friday), the mobile phone companies and a few content providers joined together and filed a revision asking for the stay to be vacated. The case however has been posted for further hearing today (Saturday). Given that the second ODI starts at 10.30 AM in the morning, the mobile phone companies have requested that the hearing be started at 9.00 AM. The request has been granted. However, it is unlikely that a decision may be awarded within one and half hours.

Court couldn't go into the matter yesterday because a section of the lawyers in Chennai High Court were striking work - linked to a protest against Police Officer in Madurai, who had apparently filed false cases against lawyers in the Madurai branch of the Chennai High Court. So the striking lawyers barged into the justice chamber were the stay case was being heard and forced the lawyers there to quit work.


Continuing on the issue at hand, in 1996-97 National Basketball League (NBA) and Motorola fought some cases in USA. Motorola had launched a pager and was packaging NBA scores through this pager. NBA claimed that Motorola was violating NBA's copyright and was freeriding on NBA's work.

NBA succeeded in getting an injunction in a district court in New York State and restrained Motorola from distributing the scores in July 1996, but Motorola went to the Court of Appeals For the Second Circuit and had the injunction vacated in January 1997.

There is a succinct summary of this case in a page called Ius Mentis. Go there and look around for NBA versus Motorola. Also look at Morris Communications versus PGA Tour, which explains that if the rights holder spends substantial sum of money and investment in technology to collect the scores, then it is fair to say that the rights holder can control the distribution of the same (such as in PGA).

However other games such as Basketball, Football and even cricket which has more than a single point or goal count, the rights holder or his agents do virtually nothing besides organizing the matches. Anyone watching the TV broadcast or listening to the radio broadcast or even following the text description line by line can compose the scores. Then such scores can be comfortably transmitted further for monetary gains.

However it will be interesting to find what the Chennai High Court decides on this. My feeling is that this is not going to stop at the High Court and we will see this being taken to the Supreme Court.

BCCI, I hear, is keenly following this and has been cited as one of the parties in the suit. Their mobile rights are coming up for sale and they would be following this case carefully as well and I am sure arguning that the copyrights over the scores rest with themselves rather than anyone who is creating them.

More as I hear more.

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