A few days after we saw misleading blocking messages from ISP’s, the Madras High Court passed a John Doe order on Wednesday, the 24th of August, blocking a whopping 830 sites that allegedly hosted illegal copies of ‘A Flying Jatt’. The movie, produced by Balaji Motion Pictures Limited, released on Thursday to mediocre reviews. The Times of India first reported on this order, and it was then later picked up by India Today and Medianama. The order was uploaded on the website yesterday.
The Court ordered ISP’s to block these sites within 24 hours of the receipt of the details of infringement from the film producer. Strangely, the Court prescribes this blocking in the interim, and for a period of four weeks only – until the 21st of September. The producers pleaded for protection against both online and offline piracy, naming 38 ISPs, 5 cable TV Operators and 8 unknown persons in the suit. The court also granted restraining orders against these parties to stop them from “camcording/recording and allowing others to transmit, communicate or make available, display, release, upload download in any manner whatsoever” copies of the movie.
The order is honestly quite confusing as it does not require proof of infringement to be shown, and orders the blocking for an arbitrary four-week period. Further, following the abysmal John Doe orders from the Delhi High Court, the Madras HC here granted a sweeping injunction blocking complete websites, and not require specific URLs. This is the first major John Doe order from the Madras HC in recent times, and since the parties chose to approach this jurisdiction it might hint at them choosing a forum more favourable to their claims. Given that the Bombay HC had just started infusing some safeguards in JD orders, it might perhaps be time to start considering the need for safeguards against forum shopping as well.