Yesterday, the Delhi High Court granted an ad-interim ex-parte injunction to Fox Star Studios India Ltd. and Phanton Films, the producers of the movie ‘Bombay Velvet’. The order which has not yet been uploaded on the website of the Delhi High Court, restrains named defendants and unknown parties (John Does) from “hosting, streaming, making available for viewing, downloading, providing access to… or sharing without authorisation on their website, in any manner, the film Bombay Velvet.”
The order directs ISPs to block access to unlicensed copies of the film on any infringing website when notice of the said infringement is given by the plaintiffs. Justice Indermeet Kaur ordered the injunction on the ground that the plaintiffs had made out a prima facie case for the grant of such injunction and that “irreparable” financial damage would be caused to the plaintiffs if the order is not granted. Additionally, the Delhi High Court ordered the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY) to issue notification to ensure compliance of the Court order by the ISPs.
The film producers were represented by Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar and Sai Krishna & Associates.
The next hearing of the case [CS(OS) 1299/2015] is scheduled on 9th September. One of the main defendants in the case is Macpuler William, owner of MovShare LTD, a popular cloud video hosting website.
On May 1st, a similar restraining order was granted to the producers of ‘Piku’ which released last week. The plaintiff, Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd., had filed the suit against 100 defendants which included websites engaged in “uploading pirated and unlicensed content”, namely, Vimeo.com, Thepiratebay.org, Torrentz.eu, Thiruttuvcd.biz, Merotv.net, Novamov.com, Videotanker.co, Cloudy.ec, Vidto.me, Zuzvideo.com, Video.tt, Kickasstoreents.com and Torrentfunk.com; the other defendants included ISPs, DoT, various cable operators who were not licensed to distribute/broadcast Piku and unknown parties (John Does).
The Delhi High Court granted the plaintiff interim relief on the grounds that a prima facie case was made out in favour of the plaintiff, that irreparable loss would be suffered by the plaintiff if the injunction is not granted and that the balance of convenience lay in favour of the plaintiff.
The order restrains the defendants from “communicating or making available or distributing or duplicating, or displaying, or releasing, or showing, or uploading, or downloading or exhibiting, or playing, and/or defraying the movie “Piku-Motion Se Hi Emotion” in any manner without a proper license from the plaintiff or in any other manner which would violate/infringe the plaintiff’s copyright in the said cinematograph film “Piku-Motion Se Hi Emotion” through different mediums like CD, DVD, Blu-ray, VCD, cable TV, DTH, Internet, MMS, Tapes, Conditional Access System or in any other like manner.”
The Court further added that upon receiving notice from the plaintiff of an infringing website, the ISPs must block access to the unauthorized content within 24 hours of receiving notice.
As rightly pointed out by Torrent Freak, there are serious concerns regarding the efficacy of the order itself. To begin with, one of the websites named by the plaintiff in the order is thepiratebay.org, even though the website is currently operating from the domain name thepiratebay.se. Further, another site mentioned in the order is Kickasstorrents.com, whose domain name is both outdated and misspelt in the order. Surprisingly, the order also mentions popular video sharing website ‘Vimeo’, which is rarely known to host infringing material.
The next hearing in the matter is scheduled on 31st May.
The restraining orders in Bombay Velvet and Piku were granted by the Delhi High Court keeping in mind the rampant piracy of movies which occurs online, even before the release of the movie. Courts in India have in the past easily granted John Doe orders to movie producers, a topic which we have covered extensively on the blog here, here and here.