World chess championship officials sue to stop match piracy
Organizers of the World Chess Championship sued on Monday to block a trio of website operators from distributing footage of the November 11-30 match in New York, which is expected to draw millions of online viewers.
The lawsuit, filed by World Chess US Inc and World Chess Events Ltd in Manhattan federal court, seeks to limit the operators from streaming the 12-game contest between world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and challenger Sergey Karjakin of Russia.
Instead, the tournament organisers want to protect their exclusive rights to air the event run under the auspices of the International Chess Federation, or FIDE.
“These entities expend no time, effort, or money of their own in organising, producing, or hosting the chess events for the World Championship and instead reap economic benefit from free-riding on the work and effort of World Chess,” the lawsuit said.
The defendants, Chessgames Services LLC, E-Learning Ltd and Logical Thinking Ltd were not immediately reachable for comment.
While spectators will watch the tournament from the venue in lower Manhattan, most professional chess tournaments are viewed over the internet. That makes streaming of the events particularly important, organisers said.
The match between the grandmasters, both in their 20s and competing for a US$1 million prize, will be streamed live in 360-degree Virtual Reality (VR), a first in any sport.
The feature, in which users are meant to feel more immersed in the game, costs $15 per user, but the company will also provide moves and analytics as a separate product free of charge.
Match organisers said in September that the virtual reality feature is part of a long-term goal to increase profits off of chess matches by making the games more interactive online.
The World Chess Championship has been held in an official capacity since the late 1800s. Its global popularity in the pre-internet era peaked in 1972 during the Cold War when American Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union in Reykjavik, Iceland, for the world crown.
The 1995 match between then world champion Garry Kasparov of Russia and Viswanathan Anand of India was the last title contest to be held in the United States - in New York’s World Trade Center.