Copyright

Injured Induna Comes to Patel’s Court in John Doe Matter


Screenshot 2016-08-25 18.39.20In some of our earlier posts, we have covered the traumatic story of Mr. Adarsh Agarwal, the proprietor of the website ‘www.induna.com’ that was blocked under the Bombay High Court’s John Doe order in the Great Grand Masti (“GGM”) case. In the latest order issued in this case the day before, Justice Patel acted on an e-mail received by him from Induna and has handed over its copies to the lawyer of the plaintiff, Balaji Motion Pictures as well as the lawyers from Krishnamurthy & Co. who appeared on behalf of Induna. The matter has been listed for tomorrow for further orders.

Background

By way of a comment to our post on the John Doe orders in GGM and Sultan, Mr. Agarwal had expressed his grievance that his website Induna, at which only licensed copies of movie DVDs and VCDs were sold, had also been blocked under the GGM order. This was a result of the inclusion of this website’s URL containing a still of GGM (announcing that the DVD would be available soon) in the list of URLs that were claimed by Balaji Motion Picures to be offering illicit copies of GGM.  Not only was that specific URL blocked but even the entire website was blocked by some of the ISPs. In another comment (on the post discussing Induna’s block), he noted that they had approached the plaintiff, agencies hired by it, ISPs, DoT and TRAI for unblocking of Induna, only to be disappointed. He further noted that they had been suffering irreparable monetary as well as reputational losses due to the erroneous block. The website continues to be blocked by some ISPs.

E-mail by Induna and Patel J’s order

Having knocked on all doors unsuccessfully, Induna sent an e-mail to Justice Patel intimating him about the matter and recounting its experience in seeking redress. Justice Patel took note of this e-mail and raised the matter in the court at his instance the day before. He termed Induna’s experience as “nothing short of utterly traumatic” and laudably acknowledged the need for a better crafting of a John Doe order that allows effective and speedy redress to aggrieved John Does in the following words:

I do not see how any order of a Court can operate to subject a third party, especially one who is not a named defendant, to this kind of hardship….an order that affects an unnamed defendant must be fashioned in a way that allows him or her effective and speedy redressal in Court.

The plaintiff had daringly submitted certain documents in order to show that Induna has not been blocked by all ISPs and the ISPs who have blocked, have done so only with respect to the section that relates to GGM. But Justice Patel correctly noted that even if this is the case, Induna’s block is prima facie erroneous unless it can be shown that it offered any illegal download of GMM, which was the subject matter of the plaintiff’s copyright complaint. In the alternative, he noted, that the plaintiff will have to show that the display of an image/still/picture of GGM, as done by Induna, also amounts to copyright infringement and was the subject matter of the complaint for which the John Doe order was secured from the court.

Exciting times ahead

The copies of Induna’s e-mail have been handed over to the parties’ lawyers and the matter has been listed for tomorrow for further orders. It would be interesting to see what plays out in the court tomorrow as Justice Patel’s has clearly remarked that “there does not seem to be any room for serious debate that the blocking of Induna.com will have to be removed”.

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