~ One of the key persons associated with the online betting website, Gulam Abbas Muni has been arrested after months of investigation
~ The entertainment network filed a Complaint against the betting website for the unlawful streaming of IPL 2023 earlier in the year
National, 13th December 2023: During the unprecedented success of IPL 2023, Viacom18 was locked in legal battle against the betting website ‘FairPlay’ for the infringement of digital streaming rights of Viacom18. This update comes on the heels of the arrest of Gulam Abbas Muni, a key figure behind FairPlay’s operations in India. The saga, originating in early 2023 with the media buzz surrounding IPL, has unfolded with the entertainment network Viacom18 taking due legal recourse in the face of infringement of their exclusive rights.
Anil Lale, General Counsel, Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd., commented on the matter, stating, “The unlawful streaming made it imperative for us to intervene promptly. After almost a whole year of persistence we now have one of the perpetrators behind bars. In such cases prompt action is of utmost importance. The damage caused was not just financial but also to our reputation. At Viacom18, we consistently strive to stay ahead of infringers/pirates through proactive legal measures and will continue to do so.”
Taking advantage of the hype around IPL 2023, the online betting platform ‘FairPlay’ falsely advertised across print, digital media, and hoardings in Mumbai and other major cities. Not only endorsing the gaming/betting website but also illicitly associating itself with the streaming rights of IPL, using taglines like “Watch IPL for Free, LIVE”. Subsequently, it was revealed that IPL 2023 was being unlawfully streamed on the FairPlay platform.
Having secured the digital rights for IPL from BCCI for a period of 5 years, Viacom18 took swift measures by seeking a pre-infringement injunction. By an order dated 21st December 2022 passed by the Hon’ble Madras High Court, more than 4,750 specified websites, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), unknown parties were restrained from streaming/hosting/downloading/exhibiting/transmitting or making available content that violates Viacom18’s rights in the IPL.
On 19th April 2023, the Hon’ble Madras High Court granted an Injunction against FairPlay, thereby restraining the unauthorized digital streaming/hosting/downloading/exhibiting/transmitting of the IPL 2023 on the FairPlay website, including any advertisements. Given FairPlay’s infringement of Viacom18’s rights, Viacom18 filed a suit before the Madras High Court and filed an application for Interim Injunction against FairPlay.
Furthering their commitment to protecting their rights, Viacom18 filed a criminal complaint before the Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit (MCDCU) against FairPlay and its owners and distributors, namely Abbas, Penny, and Joe, for copyright infringement, criminal conspiracy, and cheating, among other offenses, thus enforcing Viacom18’s rights in IPL.
After months of thorough investigation, on 12th December 2023, the MCDCU successfully arrested Abbas, one of the prime accused. The Accused Gulam Abbas Muni was produced before the Court on the same day and has been remanded to police custody until the next date.
In conclusion, through prompt and proactive actions, Viacom18 has continued their fight against piracy, resulting in a successful enforcement of its rights and reducing piracy.