The Maharashtra Police Cyber Cell on Monday questioned rapper Badshah in connection with the online betting app Fair Play, on which Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 matches were allegedly streamed without authorisation.
This was followed by a complaint from Viacom18, the exclusive broadcaster for IPL, which claimed that it incurred a loss exceeding Rs100 crore because of the unauthorised streaming of its content.
What do we know about the case?
According to reports, Badshah was summoned as a part of an inquiry that involved 40 celebrities, including Sanjay Dutt and Jacqueline Fernandez, who promoted the platform. An FIR has been filed, encompassing multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code, including those related to deception and criminal conspiracy, in addition to the IT and Copyright Acts.
According to Viacom 18's complaint, they possessed the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for streaming the matches, yet the matches were illicitly broadcasted on the Fair Play platform. The complaint also alleged that certain actors endorsed the tournament on the Fair Play app. The company’s anti-piracy team identified multiple apps such as Kashow, Foki, Vedu, Smart Player Lite, Wow TV and Fair Play that telecasted Tata IPL 2023 without any rights or collaboration with Viacom18.
Based on the case, a digital piracy case was filed against the app. Digital piracy typically involves the unauthorised distribution, reproduction, or sharing of digital content, including movies, music, software, ebooks, and other digital media.
Badshah’s lawyer Prashant Patil told media that Badshah was summoned as a witness under section 160 CrPC and not as an accused. "As a law-abiding citizen, Badshah appeared before the department and duly cooperated with the investigation agency. He has produced bank records, which clearly reflect that he has not committed any offence and is just a witness in the entire investigation," he said.
What is Fair Play app?
Fair Play is an online betting app which offers gambling games like live casino, card games, Baccarat, Teen Patti, Poker, Roulette along with betting games for sports such as Cricket, Football and Tennis. Established in 2019, the app's website describes itself as "the most trusted betting exchange and leading online casino".
The betting procedures on the app is conducted by real dealers instead of bots, which provides the users "thrill of a live casino". All sports matches are streamed live on Fair Play app for live betting. The various bonus offers on the betting app includes, interest on average wallet balance every month, referral bonus, hourly bonuses and gift cards.
The app is a subsidiary of Mahadev Betting app and hence came under the investigation of Enforcement Directorate (ED) as part of its probe into the latter for money laundering charges, earlier this month. The founders of the Mahadev betting app, Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal came under the radar of ED following the Rs 200-crore grand wedding of Chandrakar held in UAE; the entire amount spent on which was paid in cash.
According to the ED report, large scale hawala operations were done to siphon off the proceeds of betting to off-shore accounts. In 2022, transactions totaling Rs 5,000 crores were conducted throughout India via the Mahadev app.
Earlier this month, several top celebrities, including actors Ranbir Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Huma Qureshi and comedian Kapil Sharma, had come under the scanner of the ED in connection with Mahadev app case.
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