The Delhi High Court has ordered the blocking of 34 rogue websites engaging in online piracy by streaming content from Universal City Studios LLC., Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Netflix Studios, LLC, Paramount Pictures Corporation, and Disney Enterprises, Inc, through unlawful means.
Judge Asha Menon ordered the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue notices calling on telecommunications service providers registered with them to disable access in India to said websites within 36 time.
The court also ordered internet service providers to block access to rogue websites.
“Yet it is undeniable that these websites are actively distributing plaintiffs’ films and television content through illegal means. The legal notices issued to them have elicited no response. These illegal websites created for the primary purpose and unique to pirate copyrighted works for their own commercial benefits cannot be allowed to continue to do so, awaiting the disposition of the prosecution,“said the Court.
The lawsuit was brought by the six plaintiffs seeking a permanent injunction restraining 34 defendant websites from hosting, streaming, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public or communicating to the public, or facilitating the same, on their websites, any content in relation to which they had copyright.
Lawyer Saikrishna Rajagopal appearing for plaintiffs requested an interim instruction to block access to rogue websites due to continued copyright infringement of their creative work as various films including Mulan, Lego Batman, Finding Nemo, The World from Dory, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, San Andreas and Joker and TV series such as Mob Psycho, Friends, Stranger Things, Sacred Games, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures and Arrow etc., immense loss has been caused to the plaintiffs.
“Defendants #1-34 were created to download pirated movies, TV programs, etc. These websites are anonymous in nature. Information provided in the public domain regarding the owners of the websites is inherently incorrect or copyrighted behind veil of secrecy and hidden behind private domain services offered by various domain name registrars. the owners of these websites in court and to ensure that the orders are respected,“said the court.
The plaintiffs also argued that the lawsuit was admissible because they had been affected by the rogue websites due to the illegal dissemination of their creative and original work and, therefore, there were common facts and legal issues involved. .
It was argued that since the plaintiffs were harmed by the same act or series of acts, on the basis of which the copyrights in their works were infringed by the rogue websites, the suit could also stand. under Ordinance I Rule 1(a) CCP and that bringing separate suits would only increase the burden on the court.
“This Court is unable to accept the submissions made. Plaintiffs are different legal persons. They may have a common grievance against Defendants for downloading and streaming their copyrighted work without authorization or license, but the similarity of the remedies sought against the defendants would not be enough for the plaintiffs to join hands in a single action”, said the Court.
Observing further that there was no identity of copyright, work, infringement of each Plaintiffs work by each of the Defendants, the Court stated that the requirements of Order I Rule 1(a) and (b) CPC were not satisfied and that all plaintiffs could not join a single lawsuit, even against a similar set of defendants.
“Ultimately, in this set of issues, if the court were to order the plaintiffs to file separate claims in view of the above submissions, since the remedies sought are against the same set of defendants, namely, injunctive relief against them, restraining them from infringing the copyrights of each of the plaintiffs, in their various creative works and if certain commonalities of evidence are revealed, this Court would not be powerless to order the consolidation of the suits for trial and decision at a stage ulterior,” he added.
Accordingly, the Court ordered that the complaint be filed as a trial and issued a subpoena.
“List before the Joint Registrar on May 10, 2022, for the fulfillment of service and submissions,” ordered the Court.
Title: UNIVERSAL CITY STUDIOS LLC. & ORS. v. 123MOVIESHUB.TC & ORS.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Deleted) 139
Click here to read the order