Star India overturns the domino of rogue apps and websites

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Star India Pvt. Ltd (Star) is an entertainment and media company in India engaged in, among other things, the production of popular content broadcast on its STAR channels and is the sole holder of the media rights to various sporting events which are also broadcast on its Star channels such as TATA Indian Premier League 2022. Star is also a film production and distribution company.

A Star Group company, Novi Digital Entertainment owns and operates the online audio-visual streaming platform and website, “www.hotstar.com” and the mobile application, “Disney+ Hotstar”, which allows viewers to watch Star content via the Internet.

It has come to Star’s knowledge that its exclusive rights to the aforementioned content have been infringed by certain malicious applications of Defendants #1-6. These Rogue Applications infringed and/or facilitated/enabled/authorized the infringement of Star’s exclusive rights under Sections 14(d) and 37 of the Copyright Act 1957, by reproducing, storing, transmitting, communicating, making available for viewing or providing access to the aforementioned Star content/works.

As a result, Star approached[1] the Delhi High Court seeking an injunction against these rogue websites. Star asserted that it has exclusive rights to the aforementioned works, including, among other things, the rights to publicly exhibit and communicate said content by any means or mode, including on the STAR or Disney+ Hotstar channels. He claimed to be the sole and exclusive owner of the broadcast reproduction rights in connection with the aforementioned sporting event broadcasts communicated through the STAR and Disney+ Hotstar Channels.

Star argued that these Rogue apps were Android-based third-party mobile apps that communicate, make available for viewing, and provide access to content, free of charge (or with a minimal subscription fee) and without any permission from various rightsholders or Star. . The downloading, distribution and use of these Android-based mobile applications, such as Rogue applications, is done through an APK (Android Package Kit) file format. Star maintained that these Rogue apps were completely illegal apps and had no permission or license to reproduce, store, transmit, communicate or otherwise make available for viewing and providing access to any Star content.

Star asserted that the intent and purpose of these Rogue applications is to exploit Star’s copyrighted works and provide an alternative to legitimate sources to the user in such a way that the user does not don’t have to pay for the content.

Star also joined certain Rogue websites as defendants in Defendants’ lawsuit #7-12 which provided access to users of Android-based mobile applications such as the Rogue Apps. Simply put, any user looking for a specific Android-based app that will provide access to counterfeit content would usually be able to download such an app from the .APK file provided by rogue websites.

The Department of Telecommunications (“DOT”) and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (“MEITY”), which are government departments, were also joined as defendants and were named in the limited purpose of issuing notices involving Internet and telecommunications service providers. block access to rogue apps and websites. The Court, after reviewing all of the submissions and assertions, held that Star had satisfied the three conditions precedent to the grant of an ex parte injunction and retained Defendants Nos. 1 through 6 (and other Fraudulent Applications discovered during of the proceedings and notified in any way whatsoever communicating to the public, hosting, storing, reproducing, distributing, distributing, repeat broadcasts, causing the public to be seen or heard in return for payment of a fee and/or making available for viewing the Applicants’ Works/Contents.

The Court prohibited fraudulent websites from infringing and/or enabling infringement in any way, including facilitating and materially contributing to the communication, hosting, streaming and/or placing available for viewing and downloading, without permission, on their websites or other platforms. , via the Internet in any way. Domain name registrars have been ordered to disable/suspend domain name registration of rogue websites. ISPs have been instructed to block access to different UI domains/websites from malicious apps and websites. MEITY and DOT have been ordered to issue a notification calling on the various Internet and telecommunications service providers registered under it to block access to these rogue domains/websites.

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