Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

In recent years, online fantasy sports (OFS) have become increasingly popular, with millions of people in India participating in various games and tournaments. Now, with the rise of NFTs, new companies are getting in on the action, using NFTs to enhance their gameplay experience.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital assets that are verified on a blockchain and have a unique identity that makes them irreplaceable. These tokens have been used to create digital art, music, and even virtual real estate. In the context of online fantasy sports, NFTs are being used to create unique player cards that can be traded, bought, and sold on various marketplaces. In India, IPL has become the new playground in India for players in online fantasy using NFT.
In this context, the recent Delhi High Court order on NFTs in the Rario vs Striker case, has widespread implications for the OFS as well as the Web 3 sector. The court ruled that NFTs are a freely available technology and no one can claim exclusive rights over their use.
The Delhi High Court also ruled that the use of celebrity names and images for purposes such as satire, parody, art, and news is protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and would not infringe the right to publicity. This decision has significant implications for the use of player names and images by fantasy sports platforms.
The court’s decision is a welcome one, as it upholds the principles of innovation and free access to technology. It is essential to recognize that NFTs are a technology that can be used for a variety of purposes, from creating unique digital art to enhancing the experience of playing online games. By stating that NFTs are freely available, the court has made it clear that no one can claim exclusive ownership over the technology or its use.
The court’s decision recognizes the importance of free speech and artistic expression in a democratic society. It rightly notes that the use of celebrities’ names and images for purposes such as satire and art is a protected form of expression under the Constitution. This means that fantasy sports platforms can use player names and images for commercial gain, as long as it is done within the boundaries of artistic expression and free speech.
The court also correctly noted that there is no difference between OFS games with NFT-enabled player cards and ordinary OFS games when it comes to the use of a player’s name, artistic impression, or photograph. The use of these elements is fundamental to the game and its enjoyment by players. The fact that NFTs are involved does not change this fundamental aspect of the game.
The Delhi High Court’s order is a positive development for the NFT industry and for technology in general. It upholds the principles of innovation and free access to technology, while also recognizing the value that NFTs can bring to various industries. As the use of NFTs continues to grow, it is important that courts and regulators continue to support their use in a way that benefits all stakeholders, from creators to consumers
However, it is important to note that the ruling does not give carte blanche to the use of NFTs in the sports world. For instance, it does not grant individuals the right to create NFTs that infringe upon the rights of athletes or any sports associations. As with any new technology, the creation of a comprehensive legal framework to protect the interests of all stakeholders involved will be imperative.
But until then, the High Court’s interim decision will serve as an important precedent, one that will pave the way for greater adoption of NFTs among the masses, and allow artists and individuals to fully leverage the potential of this new technology. If encouraged and nurtured correctly, this will open up new opportunities for all creators, far beyond the world of online fantasy sports.
By: Arti Shrivastava, practicing advocate

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Tanushree K

By Tanushree


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