Right to be forgotten in India

Unlike the EU, India does not have any existing legal framework which recognises the right to be forgotten. However, the Indian courts have taken varying views in respect to whether such right exists in India as yet. In Dharamraj Bhanushankar Dave v. State of Gujarat & Ors., the Gujarat High Court denied the existence of such right. However, the Karnataka High Court in Sri Vasunathan v. The Registrar General & Ors. recognised it. Recently, in 2020, the Orissa High Court in Subhranshu Rout @ Gugul v. State of Odisha, emphasized the importance of ‘right to be forgotten’.

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Though the existence of such right is unclear right now, however, the PDP Bill, 2019 has a dedicated provision on the ‘Right to be forgotten’. According to Clause 20 of the Bill, the data principal enjoys the ‘right to restrict or prevent the continuing disclosure of his personal data’ by a data fiduciary if– 

  1. The purpose for which the data was collected is fulfilled;
  2. The data principal has withdrawn his consent; 
  3. The disclosure was made contrary to the provisions of the bill or any other law in force.

The provision further provides that such right can only be enforced by virtue of an order by the Adjudicating Officer, after the data principal has made an application on the grounds mentioned above. The burden of proving that this right overrides the freedom of speech and expression and the right to information of any other citizen, is on the data principal

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The provision further provides for the factors which the Adjudicating Officer should take into account, while making the order. Such order can be reviewed by the Adjudicating Officer himself, and any order made by the Adjudicating Officer can also be appealed to the Appellate Tribunal. 

Therefore, on analysis of the provision of right to be forgotten under the PDP Bill, 2019, it is apparent that its scope is very limited compared to the scope it enjoys under the GDPR. The Bill merely provides for restricting or preventing continued disclosure of information, as opposed to GDPR which provides for complete erasure.

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Development of Cybercrime Law in the United Kingdom

Development of cybercrime law in the United Kingdom

The enactment of computer crime specific legislation or cybercrime law in the United Kingdom can be attributed to a number of cases which highlighted the issue of absence of such legislation and the subsequent acquittal of individuals.

R v. Thompson

Firstly, in R v. Thompson,[1] the appellant in Kuwait, had fraudulently caused a bank to credit certain bank balances in England. The access was authorized, however, such access was used for an unlawful purpose. The Theft Act of 1968 was sought to be applied[2]. The primary issue was that of jurisdiction (Kuwait or England) as well as identifying the victim. The court held that for applying the Theft Act, the identification of a human victim is a prerequisite. However, in the present case, the computer system was deceived, rather than a human mind. This highlighted the inadequacy of the existing legal framework to deal with cases where computer was a victim of a crime, rather than a mere facilitator.

R v. Gold and Schifreen

Secondly, in R v. Gold and Schifreen,[3] certain individuals got access to the files contained in British Telecom Prestel Network by seeing the username and password entered by the authorized person, over his shoulders. The accused were charged under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act of 1981. However, the court held that the accused cannot be prosecuted under the said Act as the use of recorded electronic information did not fall under the definition of ‘false instrument’[4]. Therefore, the act committed by the accused does not come under the ambit of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act. The outcome of this case highlighted that new age crimes (cybercrimes) cannot be prosecuted under the traditional criminal laws.

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It is pertinent to note that there were a series of case laws wherein the court adopted a more liberal approach to include the new age crimes within the ambit of traditional laws. In Cox v. Riley,[5] the court held that ‘damage’ implies any injury impairing the value and usefulness. Such injury need not be apparent to the naked eyes. Therefore, deleting program from a computer-controlled machine, which renders it unusable, constitutes ‘damage’ under the Criminal Damages Act, 1971. A similar approach was adopted in R v. Whiteley[6].

The increasing instance of computer crimes, the failure of court to effectively prosecute individuals who committed computer crimes, and the significance of ensuring effective prosecution by broadening the scope of existing laws, had a combined effect which led to the enactment of the Computer Abuse Act of 1990[7] in the United Kingdom.

Originally, the 1990 Act brought within its ambit, three categories of offences-

  1. Unauthorized access to programs or data[8];
  2. Unauthorized access with further criminal intent[9] and
  3. Unauthorized modification of data[10].

In Ellis v. DPP,[11] section 1 of the Act was interpreted, and the court held that unauthorized access, even though in absence of damage, comes under the ambit of the 1990 Act.

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The 1990 Act addressed the issue of jurisdictional challenge in cases of computer crime by making it an offence to use a computer in the home country to commit a crime in another country and to commit a crime in the country from a computer in another country[12].

It is pertinent to note that the 1990 Act was not well equipped to deal with computer crimes per se in a comprehensive manner. The issue with respect to section 2 of the Act was highlighted in R v. Bedworth[13], wherein while proving intent, addiction was recognized as a defense. As a result, the Jury acquitted the accused.

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[1] R v. Thompson, (1984) 79 Cr App R 191.

[2] Theft Act, 1968, § 15.

[3] R v. Gold and Schifreen, CACD [1987] QB 1116.

[4] Forgery and Counterfeiting Act, 1981, s. 8(1)(d).

[5] Cox v. Riley, [1986] QBD.

[6] R v Whiteley, [1991] 93 CAR 25.

[7] Computer Abuse Act, 1990.

[8] Id., § 1.

[9] Supra note 18, § 3.

[10] Supra note 18, § 2.

[11] Ellis v. DPP, [2001] EWHC 362.

[12] Supra note 18, § 4.

[13] R v. Bedworth, 1991.


Development of Telecommunication Law in British India

The communications system forms the basis of the economic development of a country and plays a key role in every aspect of an individual’s life. The communications system in India has come a long way from the use of telegrams in the 1850s to the extensive use of the Internet in the present times. It is pertinent to note that the foundation of telecommunications in India was laid by the British East India Company (referred to as ‘EIC’ hereafter), and was later developed by the British Government, under the British Crown.

  • Development of Telegraph services under the British regime

Research in the field of telegraph started in India way back in 1833 when a 24-year-old assistant surgeon with the East India Company (EIC), Mr. William O’Shaughnessy, started experimenting with electricity.[1] In 1839, he set up a 13.5-mile-long demonstration telegraph system near Calcutta.[2] During the same time, Samuel F.B. Morse was developing his own demonstration system back in the United States.[3] However, O’Shaughnessy was completely unaware of this development, and therefore, used a different code which was indigenously developed. On successful experimentation, he published a pamphlet about his work, but he was unable to catch the attention of the EIC.

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The state of affairs changed in 1847 when Lord Dalhousie was appointed as the Governor-General of India.[4] He showed real interest in developing public works like roads, canals, railways, and postal services in India. He also envisioned the potential of the telegraph invented by O’Shaughnessy and authorized him to build a 30 miles long line near Calcutta. This was the first experimental electric telegraph line in India which started between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour in 1851[5]. The success of this electric telegraph line incentivized Lord Dalhousie to authorize O’Shaughnessy to build telegraph lines across India.[6]

O’Shaughnessy completed the work assigned to him by 1854, and as a result, Calcutta was linked to Agra, Bombay and Madras by the telegraph network.[7] From 1851 till 1854, the telegraph was strictly limited to use by the EIC. In April 1854, first telegram was sent from Mumbai to Pune and electronic telegraph facilities were made open to use by the public[8]. Taking these developments and the subsequent need for legislation to regulate the establishment and management of electronic telegraphs in India into consideration, the Electronic Telegraphs Act of 1854[9] was enacted. The 1854 Act provided exclusive right to establishing telegraph lines in India to the EIC, however, the Governor-General of India in Council was given the power to grant the license to any person or company to establish a line[10]. The Act further established a separate Electric Telegraph Department[11]. The Act penalized the laying down of telegraph lines in contravention of the provisions of the Act.[12] It also penalized the persons who willfully caused interruption to the transmission of signals[13].

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The development of the telegraph system continued and by 1856, 4000 miles of Indian telegraph system was established connecting Calcutta, Agra, Bombay, Peshawar, and Madras.[14] It is believed that the Indian telegraph service played an instrumental role in suppressing the 1857 sepoy mutiny.[15] It proved to be a critical military tool by rapidly providing a reliable system of information which was used by the EIC to mobilize its troops. Owing to the significance of the telegraph network in suppressing the 1857 revolt, a number of Indians tried to destroy the same as an act of vengeance.[16]

The 1857 sepoy mutiny led to a significant change in power in the Indian colony. The Electric Telegraph Act of 1854 was repealed, and the Telegraph Act of 1860[17] was enacted to reflect the shift of power from British EIC to the British Crown. The 1860 Act brought two significant changes to its predecessor. Firstly, it gave the exclusive power previously enjoyed by the EIC to the Governor-General of India in Council[18]. The Governor-General also retained its power to grant licenses to private individuals and companies for establishing the telegraph lines. Secondly, considering the attempts of Indians to destroy the telegraph network post-1857 revolt, the Act of 1860 increased the number of penalties for intruding into the signal room[19] and cutting the line[20].

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The developments in the telegraph system in India were accelerated once submarine cables were completed between India and Britain in 1870.

The next significant step in the evolution of communications services in India was the enactment of the Indian Telegraph Act of 1876[21], which repealed the 1854 Act[22]. The 1876 Act was applicable to the whole of British India as well as British subjects in the Princely States[23]. The Act is considered as the first comprehensive legislation regulating telegraph services in India. It defined the terms like ‘telegraph’, ‘telegraph officer’ and ‘message’[24]. ‘Telegraph’ was defined as an electric or magnetic telegraph[25]. Just like the 1854 Act, the Governor-General retained his power of exclusive privilege and the right to grant a license under the 1876 Act.[26] The Act further increased the penalties for causing destruction to the telegraph network. The most peculiar feature of the 1876 Act was the provision for the deployment of additional police in places where mischief to telegraphs was repeatedly committed[27]. In such a scenario, the inhabitants of such a place were required to bear the cost of such deployment[28].

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After the 1876 Act came into force, in 1880, two private telephone companies namely Oriental Telephone Company Ltd. and The Anglo-Indian Telephone Company Ltd. approached the Governor-General of India to propose establishing telephone exchanges in India.[29] They were denied permission on the ground that the introduction of telephones was a Government monopoly and hence the Government itself would commence the work.[30] However, in 1881, the decision was reversed and Oriental Telephone Company Ltd. was granted a license for opening telephone exchanges at Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad. The telephone came to India a little later in 1882.[31]

In 1883, the telegraph services were combined with postal services.[32] In the meanwhile, a Bill proposing the repeal of the 1876 Act was tabled to the Council. The Bill suggested modification of the definition of ‘telegraph’ to be in consonance with the developments in Britain. It also suggested the creation of a new category of penalties. This led to the enactment of the Telegraph Act of 1885[33]. The Act broadened the definition of ‘telegraph’ to include “appliances and apparatus for transmitting or making telegraphic, telephonic or other communications by means of electricity, galvanism or magnetism”[34]. The Act also created a Telegraph Authority, which meant the Director-General of Telegraphs and included any officer empowered by him[35]. Just like its 1860 and 1876 predecessors, the Governor-General enjoyed the exclusive privilege and the right to grant a license under the 1885 Act as well. The Act further granted the power to Government to take possession of licensed telegraphs to intercept messages[36].

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In 1888, overseas communications were merged with the Director-General of the Indian Telegraph Department.[37]

The next significant development took place in 1902 when cable telegraphs were changed to wireless telegraphs.[38] Therefore, in 1902, the Indian telegraph services went wireless. Furthermore, in 1914, a big administrative change happened. The Postal Department and the Telegraph Department were amalgamated under a single Director-General by amending the definition of ‘telegraph authority under the 1885 Act[39].

The 1885 Act underwent a number of changes in the years 1914, 1930 and 1937. As per the amendment of section 4 in 1914, the Government was given the power to establish and maintain wireless telegraphs on ships within Indian territorial waters and telegraphs other than wireless telegraphs[40]. This provision was further amended in 1930 to include the use of wireless telegraphy on aircraft[41].

  • Development of Radio broadcasting services under the British regime

Respect to radio broadcasting, broadcasting was introduced as a private venture through radio clubs in Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and Lahore in 1923 and 1924.[42] In June 1923, the Radio Club of Bombay made the first-ever broadcast in India. In 1927, Calcutta Radio Club was established. During this time period, there was a daily broadcast of 2-3 hours of music and talks. However, most of these stations faced liquidation within three years of their establishment due to insufficient finances.[43]

The year 1927 also witnessed an agreement between the Government and a private company named Indian Broadcasting Company Ltd. (IBC).[44] This agreement led to the setting up of the Broadcasting Service which began broadcasting in 1927 on an experimental basis in Bombay and later in Calcutta. However, IBC faced liquidation within 3 years of its establishment.[45] The government acquired its assets and established the Indian Broadcasting Service under the Department of Labour and Industries.[46] Since then, broadcasting has remained under the control of the Government in India.

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Following the establishment of the Indian Broadcasting Service, in 1935, Lionel Fielden was appointed the first Controller of Broadcasting.[47] In the same year, a private radio station, Akashvani Mysore, was set up.[48] In 1936, a radio station was commissioned in Delhi.

The next significant step in the development of radio broadcasting services in India was the renaming of the Indian State Broadcasting Service as ‘All India Radio’, or AIR in June 1936.[49] A new signature tune was added to AIR. The Delhi radio station, established in the same year, became the nucleus of broadcasting at the national level. In 1937, AIR was brought under the Department of Communications and in 1941, under the Department of Information and Broadcasting. The Department of Information and Broadcasting was again changed to the Department of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) on 10th September 1946.[50]

Radio broadcasting underwent considerable developments during World War II. By 1939, the entire country was covered by short-wave service. Taking into account the outbreak of World War, the programme structure of radio underwent a change to meet wartime contingencies. News and political commentaries were introduced and special broadcasts were made for the people on the strategic north-eastern and north-western borders.

  • Regulation of Wireless Telegraphy in the British regime

Wireless telegraphy in India developed in line with the development of radio services. One of the major sources of revenue for the Indian State Broadcasting Service was revenue from the licence fee for working of wireless apparatus under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. Owing to the lack of legislation dealing with the unlicensed use of wireless apparatus, the Indian State Broadcasting Service faced substantial revenue losses. To deal with the unlawful possession of wireless telegraphy apparatus, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1933[51] was enacted.

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The 1933 Act defined terms like ‘wireless communication’ and ‘wireless telegraphy apparatus.[52] The Act prohibited the possession of wireless telegraphy apparatus without a license under section 4. The telegraph authority under the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 was given the power to issue licenses to possess wireless telegraphy apparatus under the Act[53]. The act of possession of wireless telegraphy apparatus without a license was made a punishable offence[54].

  • The relevance of Communication Laws enacted in the British regime after the coming into force of the Constitution of India in 1950

When India became independent, there were over 7000 telegraph offices and about 300 state-owned telephone services, across the country. Furthermore, there were 6 AIR stations at Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Lucknow and Tiruchirapalli, with 18 transmitters, among which six were on the medium wave and the remaining were on short wave.

The legal regime governing the telecommunications sector in India developed to a considerable extent after independence owing to technological changes, however, it is pertinent to note that the government decided to adopt certain key legislation relating to the telecommunications sector which was in force during the British regime. The most significant adoption was the exclusive privilege over the telegraph service and right to grant a license, enjoyed by the Government over the telecommunications sector in the British regime. This status was adopted in the Constitution of India by virtue of Entry 31 of List I in Schedule 7 which puts ‘posts and telegraphs, telephones, wireless, broadcasting, and other like forms of communications’ in the exclusive domain of the Union List[55]. The then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was also of the opinion that the telecommunication sector should be retained by the Central Government owing to its criticality to the development of India.

The Telegraph Act of 1885 was amended in the year 1948 to substitute the word ‘Provinces’ with ‘India’[56]. Although the definition of ‘telegraph’ has been amended in the subsequent years to ensure that technological development does not leave out certain services from being regulated by the state, however, the basic premise of the 1885 Act has remained intact over the years.

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The Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 too is still in existence and retains most of the provisions of the original Act.

With respect to radio broadcasting services, All India Radio is in existence even today, under the control of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Therefore, the British regime did not only help India in laying the infrastructural foundations of communications, it also helped to develop a legal regime governing the same. This legal regime is still operational, with certain amendments aimed at adopting the dynamic nature of technology.

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[1] John H. Lienhard, Indian Telegraph, (last visited Apr. 20 2021).

[2] Id.

[3] Indian telegraph Service, INDIAN PHILATELY, (last visited Apr. 20 2021).

[4] Lienhard, Supra note 1.

[5] Development of posts and telegraph during the British rule, (last visited Apr. 20 2021).

[6] Lienhard, Supra note 1.

[7] Supra note 3.

[8] Maninder Dabas, Today in 1854, first telegrpoh was sent in India, INDIA TIMES (Apr, 27, 2017, 4:15 PM),

[9] Electronic Telegraphs Act, 1854, available at

[10] Id, § 1.

[11] Supra note 9, § 7.

[12] Supra note 9, § 2.

[13] Supra note 9, § 9.

[14] Lienhard, Supra note 1.

[15] Michael Mann, The deep digital divide: The telephone in British India, 35(1) HISTORICAL SOCIAL RESEARCH 188, 200 (2010).

[16] Id.

[17] Telegraph Act, 1860, available at

[18] Id, § 2.

[19] Supra note 17, § 9.

[20] Supra note 17, § 10.

[21] Indian Telegraph Act, 1876, available at

[22] Id, § 2.

[23] Supra note 21, § 1.

[24] Supra note 21, § 3.

[25] Id.

[26] Supra note 21, § 4.

[27] Supra note 21, § 16.

[28] Id.

[29] Gopika G G, Growth and development of telecom sector in India- An overview, 16(9) IOSR-JBM 25, 26 (2014).

[30] Id.

[31] Id.

[32] Id.

[33] Telegraph Act, 1885, available at

[34] Id, § 3(1).

[35] Supra note 33, § 3(6).

[36] Supra note 33, § 5.

[37] Id.

[38] Gopika G G, Growth and development of telecom sector in India- An overview, 16(9) IOSR-JBM 25, 33 (2014).

[39] Supra note 33, § 3(6).

[40] Act 7 of 1914.

[41] Act 27 of 1930.

[42] Growth and development, PRASAR BHARTI, (last visited 20 Apr. 2021).

[43] Id.

[44] Alasdair Pinkerton, Radio and the Raj: Broadcasting in British India (1920-1940), 18(2) JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY 167, (2008).

[45] Id. at 175.

[46] Id.

[47] Id.

[48] Supra note 42.

[49] K.C. Archana, 80 years of AIR: Remembering the golden days of All India Radio, INDIA TODAY (June 8, 2016, 3:51 PM),

[50] Id.

[51] Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, available at

[52] Id. § 2.

[53] Supra note 51, § 5.

[54] Supra note 51, § 6.

[55] Constitution of India, 1950, Schedule VII, List I, Entry 31.

[56] Act 45 of 1948.


Development of Cybercrime Law in the European Union

At the European Union level, although the possibility of having a comprehensive legal framework dealing with cyber crimes was not a far stretched idea owing to the cooperation at the Union level, however, this idea was not considered until the late 1990s.

Taking into account the growing incidents of cyber crimes, their peculiar nature, and the essential element of international cooperation in this regard, a series of initiatives were taken at the EU level in the form of recommendations and Council conclusions. This was followed by the first legislative proposal by the Commission in early 1998 to deal with certain aspects of computer crimes, i.e. credit card frauds and forgery of non-cash means of payment. However, it was only in May 2001 that the Framework Decision on Combating Fraud and Counterfeiting of Non-Cash Means of Payment was adopted.[1]

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During the same time, the Council of Europe was taking a number of steps and engaging in negotiations, in collaboration with the G8 countries, USA, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia, with respect to judicial cooperation in this field.  As a result, an agreement was reached in 1997 pertaining to an action plan to combat high-tech and computer-related crimes. One of the action plan’s initiatives is the 24/7 network of law enforcement contact points to combat cybercrime, which is now a part of the current legal framework at the EU level. This network furthers the objective of international cooperation, specifically with respect to the investigation of cybercrimes.

In October 1999, the G8 met again as a follow-up measure of the action plan. This follow-up concluded that the biggest roadblock in combating computer crimes is the identification and tracking of criminals in cyberspace. To overcome this roadblock, many principles were adopted to ensure transnational access to data, simplified mutual assistance, and general permission to access publicly available material in another state without express permission. These principles now form the basis of the current legal regime at the EU level[2].

Meanwhile, the European Committee on Crime Problems[3] (CDPC) decided to set up a committee of experts to deal with cyber-crime in November 1996. Subsequently, the Report submitted by Professor H.W.K. Kaspersen concluded that “it should be looked to another legal instrument with more engagement than a Recommendation, such as a Convention. Such a Convention should not only deal with criminal substantive law matters but also with criminal procedural questions as well as with international criminal law procedures and agreements”.[4]

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Taking into account the Report submitted to the CDPC, the Council of Europe was successful in formulating the Convention on Cybercrime[5], with an aim to bring minimum harmonization in the acts termed as ‘cybercrime’ in the Member States of the EU.

The Explanatory Report of the Cybercrime Convention highlights the changing nature of crimes and the subsequent need to develop a legal framework to prosecute such crimes exclusively. It states that-

The technological developments have given rise to unprecedented economic and social changes, but they also have a dark side: the emergence of new types of crime as well as the commission of traditional crimes by means of new technologies.[6] Criminals are increasingly located in places other than where their acts produce their effects. However, domestic laws are generally confined to a specific territory. Thus, solutions to the problems posed must be addressed by international law, necessitating the adoption of adequate international legal instruments”.[7]

The Convention on Cybercrime adopts a holistic approach in dealing with both substantive and procedural aspects[8] of cybercrimes at the EU level. Section 1 of Chapter II covers both criminalization provisions and other connected provisions in the area of computer or computer-related crime by defining nine offences (illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, misuse of devices, computer-related forgery, computer-related fraud, offences related to child pornography and offences related to copyright and neighbouring rights) grouped into four different categories (offences against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems, computer-related offences, content-related offences and offences related to copyright and neighbouring rights)[9]. It further deals with ancillary liability and sanctions[10].

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Furthermore, the Convention also contains provisions for traditional as well as computer crime-related mutual assistance and extradition.[11] It also provides for transborder access to stored computer data without mutual assistance, either with consent or without consent, in the case of publicly available data. It also provides for the setting up of a 24/7 network to ensure speedy assistance among the Parties.

Lastly, at the Union level, to address the issue of cooperation at, the Union level, the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) was established in 2004. ENISA was given the responsibility to develop expertise to enhance cooperation between public and private sectors and provide assistance to the Commission and Member States of the EU in their dialogue with industry for the purpose of addressing security-related problems in hardware and software products. It was also required to promote risk assessment activities as well as interoperable risk management routines.[12]

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[1] EUR-Lex, (last visited May 3, 2021).

[2] These principles can now also be found in the Cybercrime Convention.

[3] Decision CDPC/103/211196.

[4] Salaheddin J. Juneidi, Council of Europe Convention on Cyber Crime, IPICS (2002).

[5] The Cybercrime Convention.

[6] Explanatory Report to the Cybercrime Convention, part I(5).

[7] Explanatory Report to the Cybercrime Convention, part I(6).

[8] Supra note 29, chapter II, § 2.

[9] Supra note 29, chapter II, § 1.

[10] Supra note 29, chapter II, §1, title 5.

[11] Supra note 29, art. 25.

[12] ENISA, (last visited May 6, 2021).


Rule Of Law in Globalising World

The concept of rule of law finds its origin in the rulings of Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke[1] wherein he emphasised the significance of the King being under the law. However, it was only later that A. V. Dicey in his book: Introduction to the study of the Law of the Constitution, 1885[2], tried developing the concept further. He identified three components of the rule of law[3]

  1. The supremacy of law
  2. Equality before law
  • Constitution as a result of ordinary law of the land (signifying the relevance of judge-made laws in England)

These components ensured that the rule of law acted as a constraint on the arbitrary exercise of power by the sovereign over its subjects. Therefore, his primary focus was on the way in which the law was made, applied, and enforced (process-focused approach), rather than the actual content of the law (end-focussed approach). This creates a lot of confusion with respect to the applicability of the rule of law. Modern democracies are founded on this principle, however, there are contrasting convictions about what ‘law’ is/should be.

Previously, the concept of rule of law was limited in its application to the sovereign territory of the state as the interactions were primarily intranational. However, over a period of time, with the advent of technology and the movement of people, goods and services across borders, such interaction became international, leading to cross-border disputes. Through the process of globalization, “political, economic, and technological changes have had globalizing ramifications that penetrate state borders in ways that transformed the core rule of law values in the international legal order and have created a shift away from the previously prevailing state-centric system.”[4]

With respect to the applicability of rule of law at the international level, globalisation has made the world one single market where individual and state entities interact with other individuals and entities on a daily basis. Therefore, such interaction cannot be left unchecked with respect to the foundation principle of the legal system i.e. the rule of law. Hence, there is a need to transpose the principle of rule of law, internationally, in light of the globalized world. The significance of rule of law at the international level in the era of globalisation has been pointed out a number of times[5].

However, this transposition is easier said than done. There are some inherent issues in applying the principle globally. Firstly, with respect to whether such a principle, which was originally developed to be applicable to the national legal system, can be applied to the international legal system, in the absence of a central sovereign authority. Secondly, if the answer to the first issue is affirmative, does such international application require a reconceptualization of the original concept of rule of law in order to adapt it to the legal issues arising at the international level. Thirdly, should the international rule of law be limited in its application with respect to the relationship of different sovereign nation-states, or should it also be applied to the relationship of different individuals who are subjects of such nation-states?

The first roadblock towards the applicability of the principle of rule of law in the globalised world today encompasses the fact that there is no common sovereign power in the international arena. There is United Nations, however, the international law establishing such an institution, is a soft law in itself. Besides, it is left to the discretion of the nation-states to decide whether they wish to be a part of the U.N. Since there is no common sovereign, it is often contented by scholars that the rule of law cannot meaningfully exist in the international arena.[6] This further entails the difficulty in ascertaining what constitutes “law” in the international context since there is no “one” sovereign, and no “one” law regulating the conduct of individual nation-states.

Secondly, the Dicean concept of rule of law highlights a very narrow and process-focused approach. Such a framework will not satisfy the end objective of rule of law at the international level, with respect to acting as a constraint against the gross violation of the fundamental human rights of the individuals by the sovereign states. Therefore, the rule of law, when transposed to the international level, should not only be process-oriented but also end-oriented.

However, the nation-states, in light of the growing interaction in the globalized world and the common aim to attain international peace and order, have taken the necessary steps to address these roadblocks in the applicability of the principle internationally[7]. Globalization has a significant contribution to the development of both domestic and international legal frameworks governing and regulating transnational transactions and activities. This has led to the development of international institutions tasked with the implementation of international law to secure peace, order and respect for basic human rights in the international community.

In today’s world, however, the significance of the rule of law stretches far beyond its application to traditional inter-state relations. The second aspect of the rule of law at the international level is the increasing attention of the international community on the impact of the international rule of law on individuals, with respect to the need to protect the inalienable human rights of the individuals. The international humanitarian law and human rights law has ensured that the basic human rights of the “individuals” are brought at the centre stage[8], and that every nation-state is obligated to protect them. These developments have placed legal constraints on the conduct of sovereign states in the international community and prescribed international standards which ensure that substantive aspects of justice are also catered to, at the global level.

However, this individual-focused approach to rule of law at the international level is being implemented at the domestic level, by making the domestic legal system in line with the international standards. In light of this, it is important to keep a check on the discretion provided to the national legal system regarding the substantive rules as rule of law cannot be considered effective in its true essence if the laws are unjust and oppressive.


[1] LTJ, (last visited Feb. 1, 2021).


[3] Id.

[4] Ruti G. Teitel, Humanity’s Law: Rule of Law for the New Global Politics, 35 CORNELL INT’L L.J. 355, 357 (2002).

[5] The Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development Outcome Document, 2012; UN Millennium Development Goals etc.

[6] Charles Sampford, Reconceiving the Rule of Law for a Globalizing World, GLOBALISATION AND THE RULE OF LAW 9, 10 (2005).

[7] UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR, Convention against Terrorism, Human Trafficking etc.

[8] United Nations Human Rights Committee, the International Criminal Tribunals (ICTY, ICTR), and the International Criminal Court (ICC) etc.


Contracts in the Sports Industry and the Clauses Covered Under it

By: Tanisha Yadav


Sport is that social phenomenon that has existed from a very long time in all levels of society. It represents the country’s culture and affects people’s lifestyle, health, values, social status, country’s relation, fashion trends, etc.

It is a type of game or contest where people get involved and perform physical activities to compete against each other following definite rules and regulations. Cricket, football, basketball, and volleyball are played by the number of people in different parts of the world.

The sport has now taken the industry’s shape from the last few decades to which we often called the Sports industry. It is a market with an economic dimension, which offers products, services, places and ideas related to sport, fitness or leisure time to its consumers[1] which also involves people, organizations and businesses who facilitate, promote, and organize activities and events based on sports.

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Contract in the Sports Industry:

Sports Contracts are similar to those contracts we come across in our everyday life; they are the mutual agreements that legally bind two or more parties.

Generally speaking, the sports industry’s Contract occurs between the sports organization/sports Agent and player/Athlete.

It defines the rights and responsibilities of the various participants in the business of professional sports.[2]

All the sports contracts are express in which parties give their consensus by words either spoken or written to enter into the Contract by way of offer, acceptance and consideration in Contract. Virtually, in sports contracts, implied contracts are not considered as a real contract as its very hard to prove the implied Sports contract.

Apart from offer, acceptance and consideration, an athlete’s capacity, mutual agreement, mutual obligation and subject matter are the essential ingredients in forming the sports contract. If the athlete is an adult, he can sign the contract, but his legal guardian must sign the Contract if the athlete is minor.

In India, Sports Contracts are governed by The Indian Contract Act, 1872, and The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947.

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Following are the considerable areas/ subject matter in which sports contracts takes place[3]:

  • Endorsement and merchandising Contract
  • Contract of Sponsorship Rights
  • Contracts between Player and managers or Agency contracts.
  • Deal of Membership rights in sporting clubs or organizations.
  • Contract of Image rights
  • The contract for appearances by players
  • Contract of Participation Rights and Obligations.
  • Presenter’s Contract
  • Contract of sale of media rights with event managers, Broadcasters and promoters.
  • Endorsement and merchandising Contract
  • Contract of Player transfer
  • Contract of Brand rights.

Player-Agent Relationship:

The player-Agent relationship is significant in sports contracts, as the player is sometimes so occupied in his sports that he doesn’t get time to negotiate Contract and handle everything. Sometimes the player faces difficulty in understanding terms of the contracts too. In that scenario, the player needs a person to trust, who can look and manage a player’s commercial relationships.

Player: Player is a person who actively participates in any sports requires endurance.

Agent: A agent is a person who carries a fiduciary relationship with the player in which he serves a significant role in negotiating contracts of the professional player and handles finances and public relations.

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Professional Service Contracts: These contracts are also known as standard player’s contracts. These contracts are usually in a “boilerplate” form. The boilerplate form is the standardized forms in which standard or generic language is used.

These boilerplate forms are used where a state of Contract that can be reused in a new context without having any substantial changes in it.[4] Thus, the wording of these contracts can be used again and again without any alteration or reformation. If a professional athlete is part of a team, usually the athlete receives a standard player’s contract.[5] Hence, the professional service contracts are the same for all the athletes except the differences in salary and athletes’ bonus and involve an employer-employee relationship. Furthermore, these contracts also leave the scope of modification that can be modified by introducing collateral agreements.

Endorsement Contracts: Endorsement contracts are the independent contracts which do not require employer-employee relationship. An endorsement contract is one that grants the sponsor the right to use (i.e., license) the athlete’s name, image, or likeness in connection with advertising the sponsor’s products or services.[6]

Appearance Contracts: The appearance contracts are those contracts which pay the player/athlete for his/her appearance in any public event of any organization, institute or company by way of Contract. Thus, it is a contract between the venue and the athlete. It includes Sports camp, sports tournament etc. It sets out the time and dates for the appearance of an athlete on the venue location.

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Besides, if under any of the kind of contract, the contracting party extends beyond the scope of the terms of the Contract, under section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, i.e., restraint of trade, it would be void and not enforceable.[7]


Title: Its always essential that there should be a title of the Contract, through which one can identify the very nature of the Contract.

Information Clause: Under this clause, the information of the contracting parties is mentioned. Such as the name and address of the parties to the Contract. It also includes the information that on which date the Contract was made.

Player services Clause[8]: What type of service provided by the player is being discussed under this clause.

Player obligations Clause: This clause contains the obligations of contracting parties towards each other. It elucidates the rights, duties and responsibilities of the parties.

Term clause: This clause specifies the Contract’s duration—the time of Contract from the beginning to the end date. After completing the due date, the Contract automatically terminates, although it is subject to the renewal option of Contract to the parties.

Revenue-sharing Clause: If any organization or a company is hiring the player on the promise of sharing revenue, this clause discloses the information about the percentage and related details shared between the parties to the Contract.

Bonus Clause: This clause states that the player would get a bonus amount on his/her exceptional performance in sport.

Arbitration Clause: This clause expounds that if any dispute, controversy or any claim arises or if the issue related to breach of contract, non-performance or interpretation of Contract occurs then in that case, the matter will be resolved by the arbitrator on request of any of the parties. If parties do not agree on an arbitrator in any case, then in that scenario, both the parties will select one arbitrator. Then both the arbitrators shall select a third, and then the third arbitrator shall arbitrate the dispute.

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Board, lodging, and travel expenses Clause: 

This clause deals with the board, lodging and travel expenses of the player. It states that all the costs mentioned above will be borne by the club or organization hiring the player.

Choice of Forum Clause: Under this clause, the choice of law is mentioned through which contracting parties would like to govern, construe and enforce the Contract. As most of the sports contracts affect the parties belongs to different states, choosing a common law or jurisdiction can save parties from any further jurisdictional issues.

Remuneration and other benefits Clause: This clause states the player’s remuneration for his services.

No-Tempering Clause:  A no-tampering clause which avers that one player cannot attempt to entice another employee to enter negotiations with another club while under Contract to a different team.[9]

Confidentiality clause: Most contracts come with the confidentiality clause; certain things need to be confidential between the contracting parties only. Therefore, under this clause, contracting parties agree to keep the Contract’s contents and related matter confidential. This clause binds the parties to the Contract even after the termination of the Contract.

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Player restrictions/Hazardous Activities Clause: Under this clause, the player agrees that during the duration of the Contract the player will not engage in any other sport or any activity which can involve the substantial risk of any personal injury or which can impair the skill of the player in his sport. Apart from that, this clause contains other restriction on the player by the organization or club for the effective enforcement of the Contract. If the player breaches any of the rules and regulation mentioned under the clause or if the player becomes injured as a direct result in taking part in the given activity, the team/organization can transfer the financial risk onto the player.[10]

Non-assignment Clause: Sports contracts are personal services contract, and therefore it cannot be assigned or transferred to any other person, firm, corporation, or other entity without the prior, express, and written consent of the other party.[11]

Termination Clause: A termination clause gives the right to the contracting parties to terminate the sports contract. Commonly, it is based on the failure of the parties’ performance, breach of any material condition, warranties, or the express agreement. Furthermore, in most cases, the contract is terminated because the player is no longer fit for the sport or cannot meet the team’s need.

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Usually, the party seeking to terminate the agreement must give the other advance written notice of his intention to terminate the Contract. As long as the party seeking to terminate the Contract complies with the notice provisions, termination of the Contract is permissible.[12]

Remedies Clause: A breach of Contract can be remedied through monetary damages, restitution or specific performance. Although, the parties seek for the remedial measures which were promised under the clause.

These were the few clauses present in almost every sports contract; there are some other clauses whose inclusion mainly depends on the nature of the sports contract.


In India, the sports industry is at its boom. There are so many sports contracts that are signed every day in this industry. It is quintessential that the contract drafter should take exceptional care while drafting the policies, procedure and clauses under the Contract. Because it prevents the parties from any predicament.

But, it’s so sad that due to lack of proper sports law, Indian sports industry witnesses scandals and unfair dismissal of players. Today, there is a dire need for the introduction of sports legislation. Because it’s the only ray which can address this situation and bring fairness in this industry. Thus, for the Indian sports industry’s consistent growth, a healthy balance in the enforcement of Contract is required.

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[1] IGI Global, What is Sports Industry, IGI Global, (last visited on Jul., 17, 2020).

[2] Avinandan Chattopadhyay, Regulation and Liabilities of Parties in Sports Contract, Social Science Research Network, file:///C:/Users/HP/Downloads/SSRN-id2145520.pdf (last visited on Jul., 17, 2020).

[3] Farleys: Solicitors LLP, Sports Contracts and Agreements, Farleys, (last visited on Jul., 19, 2020).

[4] James Chen, Boilerplate, Investopedia (Sep., 03, 2019),

[5] US Legal, Sports Contracts – Basic Principles, US Legal, (last visited on Jul., 19, 2020).

[6] Supra note 6.

[7] Supra note 3.

[8] Anirudh Rastogi and Vishak Ranjit, E-Sports Player Contracts: Common Clauses And Potential Legal Issues In India, Ikigai Law: Mondaq (Jun., 18, 2020),

[9] Supra note 2.

[10] Adam Epstein & Josh Benjamin, Unique Clauses in Sport Contracts, Sh10an: WordPress, (last visited on Jul., 19, 2020).

[11] US Legal, Drafting Suggestions for A Sports Contract, US Legal, (last visited on Jul., 20, 2020).

[12] Roshan Gopalakrishna & Vidya Narayanaswamy, Sponsorship Contracts – Reasonableness of Contractual Restraints, The Sports Law and Policy Centre (Feb., 10, 2011),


Impact of COVID-19 on International Trade and the related Laws

By: Bodhisattwa Majumder

“That’s the positive aspect of trade I suppose. The world gets stirred up together. That’s about as much as I have to say for it.”

― Isabel Hoving, The Dream Merchant

Beginning the article with a “positive” quote was indeed the irony, in the ages where the world is scared of being positive. The Coronavirus or COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) from Wuhan, People’s Republic of China (“China“) has engulfed as many as 213 countries across the globe with a medical emergency and has claimed more than 258,160 lives till now with 3,689,887 affected cases.[1] This strain of the virus is graver than the other types of Coronaviruses as it has never been identified in humans before. [2]Coronavirus belongs to the zoonotic group of viruses which can affect human being with a range of health ailments ranging from the common cold to serious problems such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).[3] The World Health Organization and other countries including the US have declared it as “Global Public Health Emergency” and therefore it has been declared as public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).  In order to restrict the transmission of the virus, China has taken various restrictive measures which have caused serious human rights violations including but not limited to arbitrary censorships, lockdowns, quarantines, police suppression, and mass detentions.[4]

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The nature of the Coronavirus Virus Disease (Herein after, “COVID-19”) was such that, the world was forced to shut their doors. Due to the highly communicable nature of the disease, every nation went into their own and restricted entry and exit of both people and objects. This led to trade restrictions both within the countries and also between the countries. Although these measures were aimed at countering the biological impacts of the virus, the ripple effects of these measures were not limited to the outreach of the virus and also impacted international trade.

It is rightly said that for the virus there is a vaccine (or will be a vaccine), however, for the impact the virus had on the economies, there is no instant cure. The immunity of markets has run dry and there is only one option to revive that. More trade. But that path is also faced with numerous impediments from the after effects of COVID-19. Every country had its obligation to provide healthcare in terms of care packages, fiscal benefits, waivers, loans which burdened every nation with sovereign debt.[5] Everything would have been feasible for the countries to handle if there was a certainty or a deadline when the pandemic would end. Currently the nations and the transnational organisations do not have the answer to the above question. Although the trials of vaccines and vaccinations of the public has already commenced, it is indeed a very difficult point to ascertain whether there will be any further peaks. Every industry faces the fear of a lockdown hence the initiation of new trade measures and risk taking has also faced a steep slope. However, in order to have a foreseeable growth it is quintessential that international trade is revived to ensure a steady supply and demand.

The Governments of the nations have already began providing initiatives such as tariff and tax exemptions to the players who are in a position to trade again.  But how far do we stand a chance? This article analyses the impediments in international trade and strives to provide possible courses of action.

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International Trade – What is ground zero saying?

According to a latest declaration by an UN agency[6],

“Assuming persisting uncertainty, UNCTAD forecast indicates a decline of around 20% for the year 2020,” the UNCTAD said in a report. “Trade in the automotive and energy sector collapsed while trade in agri-food products has been stable.”

It was reported by the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development that the developing countries have faced the most burnt of the COVID wrath. The exports have taken a herculean fall of 18% which stands beyond any look of recovery. Compared to them, the developed countries have performed have better. The UNCTAD report further had added that

“China appeared to have “fared better” than other major economies, with exports growing by 3% in April, but the recovery may be short-lived as imports and exports fell by 8% in May, it added.”[7]

The approach of the Countries to COVID and other nations

The basic tenets of trade law stand on the principle that the more fortunate countries should help the third world countries in the long run. The World as we know it has never been just about the member nations or the territory occupied by the nations. It has been an ecosystem of nations which has been a living entity, constantly evolving through ages connected by intangible interactions of trade, commerce, foreign policies and other forms of inter-national interactions. Despite the transnational wars and conflicts, the nations have always worked towards a peaceful coexistence. In order to achieve such a state of being, the nations have strived to mould its foreign policies, security interests, diplomatic ties and allocation of resources in tandem with the needs of its neighboring nations.

In furtherance of same, the WTO was formed which provided in its basic text that:

all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries” and to “increase trading opportunity for developing countries.” 

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In times such as these there was a never a better opportunity or the need to put the above principle into practice, however the case was not the same. The moral responsibilities of the developed countries was not shown in the world market. There was no visible means to assist the third world economies, provide medical or social or economic support. Stringent laws were enacted to cut off other nations and at the end it came to shutting the doors by the fortunate in the face of those who are not.[8] Further, the COVID pandemic saw the cold war between the dragon and the eagle once again. While the United states took it to blame China for the pandemic and thus causing a ideological war on its practices to harm other nations and profit from it. Grave remarks were exchanged and various stringent measures have been taken to politically harm the other country.

There have been numerous measures from the United States towards China and other allying nations be it the draconian Hong Kong Shanghai Act, or the temporary bans on various Shanghai based industries operating on the united states, or imposing heavy charges on foreign debts, US has not shied away from a direct conflict.[9] Further India has also engaged in diplomatic warfare with the Chinese republic by banning a large number of Indian operated applications. But this makes us think, whether is it really the time for this?


Post COVID Trade – The urgent need for the phoenixes to rise again?

  1. Ensuring confidence of the players and the consumers.

Currently the trade needs to take off and for that we need steady and confident players in the market who take the first step. In order to have confident parties to engage in trade and invest their capital into business, it is essential that the parties are aware of the policies of the government in place. There should be absolute transparency on the part of the government, and there should be visible cooperation on their part. It is essential the countries make sure to honour their transnational trade agreements, and commitments with the member nations of the World Trading Organisation.[10]


  1. Removing the clog of Supply Chains Pipeline

The port restriction has severely affected the supply chains across the world in terms of the commercial voyaging. The policies has led to additional temperature screening at all sea checkpoints, including ferry and cruise terminals, and placed regulations to take additional precautionary measures such as prohibiting shore leave for personnel in China ports, mandatory temperature checks, keeping a log of crew movements and restricting staff travel to China among others.[11] The failure of delivery and performance of contracts due to these impediments in turn raise the commodity prices which act as a drawback for investors.

  • While the demand for essential commodities has increased significantly, these essential goods have taken the place of other commodities in supply. While it is understood that it is indeed a noble cause, and needs enforcement by the countries, it is evidently affecting the supply chain.
  • The need for additional cargo transport through the commercial vessels and passenger/cargo flights has been causing inordinate delays to the commercial transport of cargo. This problem needs to be addressed by either introduction of new modes of transport or segregation of the existing mediums.
  • The limits placed on the transport of passengers per commercial flight in order to comply social distancing norms has been causing huge impact to international travel industry.

These minute impediments have been adding to the already burdened supply chain. The result of this is increase in costs and time of voyage of goods. This blockage in the supply line is another reason for delay of the revival of trade.

  1. Avoid another pandemic – Ensuring this is a one-time thing

While the morale of the parties involved form an essential part of the problem, it is just the tip of the iceberg when it boils down to the growing economic crisis across the world. The crisis is not limited to any specific sector any specific geographic territory, but touches every corner of the world. To overcome this dark age or for the matter avoid another one, it is quintessential that the government of the nations across the world invest themselves heavily both financially and by spirit to provide social security. Further, huge investments are needed to be made in not only health sector but other sectors of economy. As this is not a continuous crisis but is coming in waves, the governments must be prepared for dealing with this approach for longer durations of time. Lastly, the intermediate actions taken now must be observed under close lens as they would be having long term ripple effects long after the COVID pandemic is over.

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[1] “Coronavirus Maps and Cases: Track the Global Spread”, CNN Health, Available at, Last Updated: May 6, 2020 at 10.45 am ET.

[2] “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic”, World Health Organization, Available at, Accessed on 06th May, 2020.

[3] “Factsheet for health professionals on Coronaviruses”, European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control, , Accessed on 6th December, 2020.

[4] “Explainer: Seven ways the coronavirus affects human rights” Amnesty International, , Accessed on 06th December, 2020

[5] COVID-19 and International Trade: Issues and Actions, OECD, 12th June 2020, Available at

[6] UNCTAD Forecast, UN Conference on Trade and Development, November, 2020.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Nicolás Albertoni and Carol Wise, International Trade Norms in the Age of Covid-19 Nationalism on the Rise?, National Public Health Emergency Collection, Available at


[9] Tariff Exclusions, Step Toe, Published April 2020, Available at

[10] COVID-19 and International Trade: Issues and Actions, OECD, 12th June 2020, Available at

[11]Bodhisattwa Majumder, Maritime Implications of Coronavirus in Southeast Asia, CMNLU NLU Orissa, Published December, 2019.


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Role Of Intellectual Property Law In The Sports Industry

By: Pallavi Tiwari


Sports are said to form 1-5 percent of the GDP and thus are very important for economy and various related companies. As far as the recent trend is concerned Indian Premier League (IPL) is going on and this is the most appropriate example to understand the connection between sports, marketing and business. Here, every team has its brand value, their advertisements, their theme songs, logos, brand name, tag-lines, marketing strategy and players’ performance strategy and all of this forms a part of IPR.  All these assets need to be protected as part of IPR from being taken away by third parties.  IP in sports came up first as recommended by Kunstadt but only with respect to copyright and trademark as the players who invest labor to develop a new move should be given economic benefit for the same.[1]

Copyright subsists in the photos clicked in the IPL events and the theme song of the themes or the title track of IPL itself.[2] Design rights can be established in the bats used by players which are specially designed and aim to facilitate their game. Trademark relates to the logo of the teams or their merchandise used in the games. All this helps in the branding of the team and also create some value in the eyes of the viewers. Unless and until something is appealable it holds no value in the market, so for investment it is important that it has created some value in the market. These logos and other IP rights have to be protected so that no one else could copy them or use them in their business and gain advantage of the established image of the players or the team, according to trademark dilution under Section 29(4) of the Trademark Act. [3]

Any third party could come up with these marks or designs and thus cause great loss to the owners and can also tarnish their image by selling bad products in the name of the players or teams by creating confusion in the minds of the consumers, which happened in the famous PayPal or Paytm case. Thus sports and IP laws work in intersection with each other and IP is essential for the commercialization of sports.[4]

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Patent law can be used in the sports industry with respect to the techniques used in the game or in the making of sports equipment to enhance the efficacy. Some examples of such patents are “D.S. Miller’s Dominant Hand Putting Method” or the “Nolan Ryan’s baseball pitch” and both are either to evade the impediments caused due to some handicap or improve the technique involved in a game. Patent can only be granted if something is novel, non-obvious and has industrial use as per Article 27(1) of the TRIPS[5] and also imbibed into the Indian Patent Law. As far as sports patents are concerned and the first requirement of novelty is to be addressed, it is important to note that even if a player has developed a technique or a move to play or designed an equipment to enhance the game it is important that he gets a patent first on it and then use it in front of other players. If he fails to do so, the patent is said to be already in the public and thus not novel or non-obvious. To determine novelty it is important that the technique or anything to be patented should not be in the mind of the public already expert in the field but the moves or techniques used by the players are just movements of limbs  and thus very commonly discussed and seen amongst the players. Thus generally players fail to get patent due to non-fulfillment of the novelty criteria. Another condition is of industrial application and there is no proof that sport related patent can be used commercially or in an industry. It depends on patent to patent and thus this condition may or may not be fulfilled.[6]

Sports is about learning new moves and mostly players learn from one another but if these moves are patented it would cause an unfair advantage on the other competitors. Sometimes another player in between of a match can use a patented move which would cause the game to come to a halt and thus destroy the basic essence of sports. Thus, this would make the players first think and then make a move or use a technique which would not be spontaneous anymore and going against the principles of sports.[7]

As far as India’s position with respect to patenting moves of a game are concerned section 3(m)[8] of the Indian Patent Act clearly debars “a mere scheme or rule or method of performing mental act or method of playing a game” from being granted a patent. Thus India is still not open to patenting of sports or the moves involved as compared to US which observes as laid down in Diamond v. Chakraborty[9] case that anything can be patented.[10]

Thus, the position of patent grant with respect to sports move is still not clear and uniform across the globe so no decision can be called upon the same.


As far as sports are concerned copyright exists in a lot of things like slogans for a team, pictures of players, or any other photography associated with the events. As copyright now involves broadcaster and performers’ rights under the Act, it gives a broadcaster a right to telecast a particular sporting event and to possess that right the companies pay huge amounts. So if any other person uses the broadcast for his own channel then it shall also be an infringement of copyright. These broadcasters make available to the public the sport events as each and every event cannot be attended by the viewers. Thus broadcasting is the major area where copyright subsists in case of sports and due to the revenue generated by licensing the broadcasting rights events can be organized and other related events can take place. Apart from the field events there are computer games also which use software which can be subjected to copyright protection and also patent protection when combined with hardware as computer programs or software are per se not patentable.[11] The characters or graphics used in video games are also subjected to copyright protection as now the craze for online games and events including video games are no less than field sports events.[12]

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As far as copyright in sports is concerned, there are two categories of sports that can be discussed: purposive or non-aesthetic sports or aesthetic sports.[13] Section 13 mentions about works in which copyright subsists and sports is clearly not a part of it. The case of Institute for Inner Studies v.Charlotte Anderson,[14] was one landmark case which discussed why copyright protection is not offered to sports. The High Court observed that yoga asana cannot be granted copyright protection because they are neither included under literary or dramatic work under the Act. The Court also felt that sports lack the main criteria of fixation in tangible medium with respect to copyright. It is also considered anti-competitive in nature as it will thereby reduce the scope for future players to use similar moves.

This is not the case with aesthetic sports (dance, gymnastics, skating) as they involve some creativity and can come under choreographic works protected under copyright. Dancers, gymnasts can also avail the performers’ rights under Section 38 of the Act. They also fulfill the requirements of performance under 2(q) of the Act and performer under Section 2(qq) of the Act and thus are eligible for protection. As far as uncertainty or originality is concerned with respect to copyright protection, aesthetic sports fulfill this criterion. They are also fixated in nature as most of the copyrighted works are as they constitute of certain specific moves.

Further in the case of Star India Pvt. Ltd. v. Piyush Agarwal & Ors.[15] the Single Bench observed that cricket events are subject to performers’ rights protection under the copyright act. But later on, this decision was overruled and the Delhi High Court observed that performers’ rights are not under copyright as they are clearly mentioned to be “special rights” under Section 38 of the Act. But stand in India relating to copyright protection for sports is still unclear.


Trademarks are used to distinguish goods and services from one another. These days’ sports events also involve a lot of brands and use them in logos and their marks to gain commercially. This is done essentially to create a brand value for products used in these sports or to catch the viewer attention. For example, champions rise is used for FIFA and like in IPL as well every team has their own logo and mark. It helps the viewers to establish a relation with the team or game and to choose their favorite side. There have been cases where players have trademarked their name like David Beckham. In the recent trend of online games it is important to have brand names for teams and events so the viewers can distinguish between them. If some revenue has to be generated through a sports event or by a team it is important that it should have some recognition in the market and this can be established through trademark.[16]

In a famous case STJUE Arsenal v. Reed,[17] the defendant used the branded goods outside the stadium in a commercial manner unofficially thus causing an infringement. Getting trademark on a team or a player’s name which in turn become very popular helps the sports apparel manufacture to establish goodwill on the brand value of the team or the player. According to Forbes ranking it is established that “the portion of [a sports team’s] enterprise value attributable to local revenue streams like television, advertising, merchandise and tickets, that exceeds what a typical team in the same sports generates.”[18]

There are some associated rights to trademarks which are known as personality rights where a player can control how much his personality in the public can be exploited to create a brand value or use it as recognition for a product. When someone uses a player’s name on their goods and does not do well on the goodwill of the player it is a clear case of trademark dilution under Section 29(4) of the Indian Trademark Act. This brand value created by using team names or players’ names can also be used by broadcasters to attract the audience and thus IP law is all mixed up in the sports industry.


Apart from these above-mentioned IP rights, there is one right which though not yet recognized under IP is important for the sports industry. It is trade secret which forms part of all the secret strategies of teams to win or secret compounds in their gears to make playing easy and winnable or any other dietary ingredient. It is not be disclosed to the public unlike patent rights. Generally other teams might try to steal these assets but they are to be necessarily protected so that no other team or player can gain undue advantage on the same.

Data analysis is another trade secret which needs to be protected from being used by fellow competitors. It may involve screening the way other team plays, their loopholes and the team’s strength and weakness in the past few matches. This then later on helps the team to decide how they will strategize their game and also observe patterns in the player’s physiological and psychological behavior. This data is also known as big-data and though India doesn’t recognize a specific trade secret law it still has been given special importance in US and UK with newly introduced legislations.


Design rights are generally an extension of trademark law and copyright law where the difference is only that design first of all is only to refer to aesthetic beauty of the product and cannot include anything technical or anything attributing to the functions of the products. Teams or sports events use beautiful designs for products to be used in the game like bats, balls and other goods to attract the viewer attention. It is highly creative in nature and it aims to enhance the appearance of the goods to be used so that if someone buys the product later they can associate it with the design of the team or the player.

One such example is development of clever bicycle by Lucio Tortola, a cyclist to reduce issues in the back and any chance of injury in bicycle rides. This was designed to be a shock absorber and help the cyclists in future. Now this design has become very famous and used by most of the cyclists across the globe. So design is just not for beauty but to also remove some issues involved in the game and help the future players. [19]

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The author has discussed various IP rights associated with sports and players and how India stands with respect to these rights. There is also another term called ambush marketing apart from these IP rights infringements which is a problem in the sports industry. Generally it is not within the scope of IP law but needs to be addressed whenever any sports issue is under consideration. It is a very prevalent practice these days when some company tries to commercially get advantage on the basis of already established goodwill of an event. They reap commercial gains in this process by unofficially associating themselves with famous sports events and gaining advantage of being a sponsor when they are not.

Relying on afore-mentioned propositions, it is important to recognize the importance of various IP rights in sports and how they can be protected. IP is always an essential ingredient of any commercial activity and since sports is now more of commercial nature it is important to protect it. In this write-up, the author shall discuss how patent, copyright, trademark, designs, trade secret and other IP rights are closely attached to sports and how can they be infringed so that businesses and companies related to sports can avoid such activities. To save a business it is important to save the IP related to it and similar is the stand for sport industry.

[1] F. F. Scott Kieff, Robert G. Kramer &  Robert M. Kunstad, “It’s Your Turn, But It’s My Move: Intellectual Property Protection for Sports Moves”, 25 Santa Clara High Tech. L.J. 765 (2012).

[2] Anita Roy, “Shield of IPR around IPL”,

[3] Vaishali Singh, “The Untapped Emergence of IP Rights and Sports: Faster, Stronger and Higher” (2019) PL (IPR) July 91.

[4] Zia Akhtar, “Sports development, legal infrastructure and protecting Intellectual Property rights”

[5] Article 27TRIPS 1994, “Patentable Subject Matter”.

[6]Leveraging Intellectual Property In The Global Sports Economy: Sports As A Tool For Progress And Development”, Global Innovation Policy Centre,

[7] Derek Bambauer, “ Legal Responses To The Challenges Of Sports Patents”, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology Volume 18, Number 2 (2005).

[8] Section 3(m), The Patent Act, 1970 “a mere scheme or rule or method of performing mental act or method of playing game”.

[9] 447 U.S. 303 (1980).

[10] Sharada Kalamadi, “Intellectual property and the business of sports management”, (2012),

[11] S.K. Verma, “IP Protection of Software and Software Contracts In India”, Vol. 17 JIPR (2012).

[12] Molly Torsen, “Intellectual Property and Sporting Events: Effective

Protection of Event Symbols through Law and Practice”, International Intellectual Property Institute,

[13] Seemantani Sharma, “A Copyright Incentive for Promoting ‘Aesthetic Sports’ in India”, The Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 17(1), 7,

[14] Case Number: CS(OS)–2252/2011.

[15] MIPR 2013 (1) 201; 2013 (54) PTC 222 (Del).

[16] Paras Sharma, “Intellectual Property Rights In Sports” Volume 8, Issue 3, IJCRT, (2020).

[17] [2003] EWCA Civ 696 (21 May 2003).

[18] M Ozanian “The Forbes Fab 40: The World’s Most Valuable Sports Brands 2017”, Forbes, Forbes Fab 40: Teams (2017).

[19]Reiventing the Frame, Challenging the Status Quo”

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Star India Private Limited v. Leo Burnett

– By Apoorva Mishra

The plaintiffs entered into an Agreement dated 9th April, 2000 with Balaji Telefilms Pvt. Ltd., in order to create, compose and produce 262 episodes of a television serial entitled “KYUNKI SAAS BHI KABHI BAHU THI”.  Since then Balaji has produced episodes of the serial and their services were engaged by way of contract of service and as such the plaintiffs are the first copyright owners under Section 17 of the Copyright Act. Balaji has devised the original artistic work depicting inter alia the logo and the title in a peculiar stylized font and containing as its essential features the words “KYUN KI SAAS BHI KABHI BAHU THI” and as per the agreement plaintiffs have become the owner of the said artistic work. The serial had acquired immense goodwill and reputation so much so that the public associate the said serial with plaintiffs and plaintiffs alone. Plaintiffs started endorsing the serial and the characters in form of products and services for a fee. In February 2002, the defendants came up with the commercial for a consumer product “TIDE DETERGENT” telecasting it with a title, “KYONKI BAHU BHI KABHI SAAS BANEGI” and characters of a grandmother, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, similar to the characters of J.D., Savita, Tulsi as in the serial of the plaintiff. The plaintiffs contended that there has been an infringement of copyright because an average viewer will have an impression that the plaintiffs are endorsing the defendant’s product and there is a connection between plaintiffs in the said serial and the defendants and their product. It is contended that the defendants are not entitled to do so without obtaining the prior consent and/or the permission from the plaintiffs and they have misrepresented the public at large and on account of this plaintiffs have suffered loss due to continuous act of infringement of copyright and passing off of the copy to the defendants.  The matter was brought before the Hon’ble Bombay High Court raising several issues:

First, Have the defendants by making the commercial film, violated and/or infringed the plaintiffs’ copyright in the T.V. serial “KYUN KI SAAS BHI KABHI BAHU THI”?

The court ruled that anything which is not a substantial copy of the film shall not be held liable for copyright infringement. Therefore, defendants by making the commercial film have not violated and/or infringed the plaintiffs’ copyright.

The court has rightly dealt with the above issue, for the second film to infringe the copyright of the first film it has to be the exact copy of that film which is not the case here. The plaintiff’s film is a work of 262 episodes whereas defendant’s advertisement is a work of 30 seconds in which only for 8 to 10 seconds the characters appear as a prelude to the tide detergent. The major and substantial part consists of tide detergent. Nothing is common between the two scripts. The defendants have put in their own independent skill and labour in making of the advertisement whole sole purpose is to promote the Tide detergent. The models are same in both the film. These models are professional and free to contract. There cannot be, therefore, any act which would amount to infringement by using the same models. Even if the idea is borrowed there, can be no copyright in the idea.

Second, Have the plaintiffs’ proved the defendants have infringed the plaintiffs’ artistic work?

The court denying the contentions of the plaintiffs coined the term Originality. Originality merely means effort expanded or that it involves skill, labour and judgment in its creation. Under Section 17 of the Copyright Act, the Author of a work is the owner of the copyright therein. The defendants have contended that the logo consisting of the two hands is a symbol in common use and in the public domain and open to anyone to use. The holding hands well known form of representing the handing over of something from one to another and are a commonly used symbol and they denied on the fact that the plaintiffs have put any skill, labour or some sort of judgement in its creation but has merely taken the lettering style from a source easily available in public domain. Hence, there is no originality, therefore no copyright.

Third, Have the plaintiff’s proved that the defendants are guilty of passing off their reputation and goodwill in the T.V. serial?

The court held that the defendants are not guilty of passing off as they do not satisfy the essentials of passing off per se. Plaintiffs’ serial is shown on Star Plus Channel which is not owned by the plaintiffs. Goodwill does not accrue to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs have no goodwill or reputation. It is the case of the plaintiffs that their serial/film is associated exclusively with the Star Plus Channel by the public and public is well aware that it can be seen only on Star Plus. Also, the T.V. commercial will not cause any harm to the plaintiffs’ serial or their reputation because the field which the plaintiffs’ serial occupies as a film/soap opera is different from the field of defendants’ commercial that of an advertisement of detergent Tide. Even the activity area is also not in common, therefore there is no misrepresentation.

On the facts of this case, there is no fictional character involved like ‘Superman’, ‘Shaktiman’ Teletubbies’. In the serial there are ordinary people in common life who plays the role of some character or the other. At least from the material on record there is nothing special in any, of the characters of which it can be said that they have gained any public recognition for itself with an independent life outside the serial. This, the plaintiffs have failed to establish. It is also not a case of one film against another film and further the defendants are not merchandising any character from the serial by means of their T.V. commercial. There should be in actual character merchandising and not mere potential of character merchandising.

The court, after analysis the entire case, rightly pronounced the judgement in favour the defendants. The defendants are just promoting their consumer product “Tide” via a T.V. commercial which in no way is connected. The field of activity of the plaintiff and defendant are totally different. No likelihood of damage has been caused to the plaintiff. The characters of which the plaintiff claims to be copied are simple general roles of our Indian society and the defendants are simply targeting the audiences of India who will relate easily to these household roles and nothing special that the plaintiffs have done with these characters for which they claim a copyright on them. This isn’t a case of misrepresentation or fraud and no real damage has been caused. No prudent person will confuse the advertisement with plaintiffs’ serial. Moreover, for character merchandising the plaintiffs should prove that the public would look at the character and consider it to represent the plaintiffs or to consider the product in relation in which it is used as has been made with the plaintiffs’ approval. But the plaintiffs have failed to establish this. In my opinion, the defendants have rightly pleaded that they are a major consumer goods Company, well known in their own right and their products including Tide have their own reputation amongst the public; Tide will be associated with the defendants and not with the plaintiffs.

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Compulsory Licensing of Patents

– By Apoorva Mishra

Compulsory licensing is an involuntary licensing where the licensor is unwilling to grant the license to the willing licensee, but this entire agreement of compulsory licensing is enforced by the state, by which the licensor has to transfer the rightful authorization of the patent to the licensee, against all his wishes. Government is basically the protector and acts as a guardian for the public at large. Therefore, for the benefit of nation, it has the right to grant the patent and next moment take away the patent and patentee’s monopoly over it. The requirements of the society at large supersedes against the rights of the patent holder to answer the pressing public requirements. Following situations may attract compulsory licensing where IP holder:

  • Charges unfair and discriminatory prices; or
  • Limits production of goods and services; or
  • Restricts technical or scientific development of goods and services; or
  • Desecrates consumer welfare.

Internationally, compulsory licensing has been supported saying that it helps in catering to the needs of the public at large and development of developing and underdeveloped countries. Compulsory Licensing has been mandated by several agreements like WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), Paris Convention for the promotion of industrial property. TRIPS has envisaged several conditions for issuance of compulsory licensing:

  1. The person or company should apply for licensing after 3 years to the grant of patent.
  2. Before applying for compulsory licensing, the person or company should make an attempt for voluntary licensing.
  3. The person or company then should apply to the board for compulsory licensing if the proposed user has made efforts to obtain authorization from the right holder on reasonable commercial terms and conditions and that such efforts have not been successful within a reasonable period of time.

In India, we have seen a growth of many foreign companies reason being they hold knowledge and they rule the terms.  Therefore, there exists a chance that these companies can abuse their positions. Compulsory licensing of IPRs in cases of such abuses would be an apt remedy that will deter these companies from abusing their dominant positions. Keeping in mind Indian conditions compulsory licensing will spur growth and development in Indian industrial sectors. Keeping in mind the size of Indian market the incentive for innovation will not erode to the extent that might deter companies from entering in to innovative endeavours as courts have granted reasonable royalties in cases where compulsory licensing has been awarded. Compulsory licensing will make the products more accessible to public and it will be beneficial for public welfare.

The developing and the under developed countries are not much concerned about protection of patent laws as much as developed countries are because they don’t have resources to spend on development of costly mechanism to ensure protection of patents.

There are few reasons behind this:

  • by allowing piracy, developing and underdeveloped countries can ensure availability of needed goods and services to their citizens at affordable prices
  • The local industries which produce counterfeit goods employee thousands of workers and therefore reduce unemployment.
  • In order to advance in science and technology, they need maximum access to intellectual property of advanced nations.

More than 80% patents in developing and underdeveloped countries are owned by citizens of technologically advanced countries. Consequently, their governments are not willing to spend huge amounts in developing effective administrative mechanism to enforce IPRs of citizens of advanced states.

The Government will, however, pay royalty to the patent holder for using his patent without his permission, but this will in turn discourage the patent holder from making any further inventions or innovations. The discouraged Research & Development shall lead to deteriorating economic growth. The developing or under-developed countries shall refrain from investing in R & D, indirectly affecting the economy, and will settle for generic goods. This might increase the risk of goods turning into inferior quality. Ultimately, as a result of weak intellectual property regime, a country becomes less competitive, and brain drain is an obvious result.

Compulsory licensing becomes inevitable to deal with the situations of “patent suppression”. By incorporating an effective mechanism of compulsory licensing, governments of developing countries may pressurize the patent holders to work the patent to maximum national advantage. The threat of non-voluntary licensing may be helpful in negotiating a reasonable price of the needed drug acceptable to both the patent owner and the government. Compulsory licensing might be necessary in situations where its refusal may prevent utilization of another important invention which can be significant for technological advancement or economic growth.

Compulsory licensing ensures that a good number of producers or manufacturers are there to cater to the needs of society; it spurs competition and consumer welfare. Those who argue against it saying that it leads to erosion in incentive for innovation forget that a right is always accompanied by a corresponding duty, and failure to perform that duty might have its implications in law.

The abuse of patents is a very likely to occur where the patentee has its rights protected under Patent laws. The patent holder has monopoly rights but they are more likely to abuse. The patent holders are often tempted to indulge in to anti-competitive practices and they try to extend their monopoly into areas where they do not have rights protected by IPRs. Software companies like Microsoft, several pharmaceutical companies, as discussed above, are protected under the patent laws and most of the time they are the sole manufacturer. So this gives them an opportunity where they can dictate their terms over the entire market which might lead to exploitation of others right in the market. In such a scenario, compulsory licensing comes into play, which acts as a remedy to abuse of patents, where government intervention leads to increase in the versatility of the market leading to a monopolistic market rather than a monopoly, the consumers have a choice and the product will be easily available, where the opponents have argued that compulsory licensing will lead to discouragement for innovations, but this also true that this will lead to a heated competition, which will in return lead to a peer pressure over the patent holder to work more over his product, get distributers, improve his research and product and make it available to the public at large. This will lead to an increase in the economy. There are reasonable apprehensions that FDI may dry up if compulsory licensing is granted as a remedy, to that essential facility doctrine must be adopted, so that only what is essential and necessary should prevail.

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