The Delhi HC on 5th April 2021 dismissed a plea filed by a leading OTT platform, MX Player. The petition was filed against a famous YouTube channel ‘The Viral Fever’ a.k.a TVF. Through the petition, MX Player sought an interim injunction order regarding exclusive rights over 3 TVF shows.
Sr. Adv. Amit Sibal, the son of former MP and Sr. Adv Kapil Sibal appeared on behalf of MX Player.
Background of the Case:
The dispute between MX Player and TVF primarily arisen due to the holding of exclusive rights of 3 TVF shows viz.
i) Immature Season 2
ii) Aspirants Season 1
iii) Flames Season 3
MX Player alleged that they had an agreement with TVF in March 2020 regarding the exclusive rights of the above-mentioned shows. MX Player claimed that they had acquired exclusive rights to broadcasting the 3 shows on their platform through the March 2020 agreement.
It was an undisputed fact between both parties that they had entered into an agreement regarding the 3 shows in March 2020. MX player had also paid a sum of $310000 as an advance.
It was alleged by MX Player that TVF even after one year after the agreement TVF was not ready to give exclusive rights to MX Player. TVF was trying to give the rights of broadcasting the 3 shows to some other platforms. Thus MX Player pleaded for interim relief for the exclusive rights of the 3 shows. MX Player also demanded that TVF should refund the advance amount with 18% interest.
On the other hand, TVF contented that they did not have any concluded contract with MX player. The advocate on behalf of TVF submitted that it is true that TVF and MX player had an agreement in March 2020. Consequent to the agreement, TVF forwarded a signed contract to MX Player. But till today the signed contract was not sent back with a signature by MX Player.
Even after repeated requests by TVF to send back the dully signed contract, MX Player did not send it. Instead of sending back the signed contract, MX Player kept suggesting amendments to the original contract. TVF showed a positive response to the amendments too. But MX Player was not willing to abide by the covenants of the contract as originally forwarded by TVF.
Thus TVF claimed that as there was no concluded contract between them and MX Player, there was no point in issuing an interim injunction order nor they were liable to pay the extra 18% interest on the refund payment.
After hearing out both parties at length, a single-judge bench of Justice C Hari Shankar observed that MX Player was unable to make a prima facie case for grant of the reliefs sought. A cohesive and conjoint reading of the communication between MX Player and TVF clearly indicates that MX player was unwilling to abide by the covenants contained in the Agreement forwarded by TVF. Therefore, it would be correct to conclude that there was consensus ad idem between the parties, at any stage of the proceedings regarding the covenants of the Agreement executed. That being so, in the absence of any contract duly signed by both parties, no concluded contract enforceable in law could be said to have come into being.
The court added that the issue is not one of want of signatures of both parties, but want of consensus regarding the Agreement. As a general proposition of law, either a dully signed contract should be present between parties or there should be consensus ad idem to enforce a contract by law. In the present case, both things were absent.
The HC dismissed the petition as the petitioner failed to create a prima facie case. In the end, the court added that the parties were at liberty to seek resolution of their disputes by arbitration.
Story by Harshwardhan Pawar – Intern