Delhi HC restrains illegal streaming of Warner Bros content, directs ISPs to block URLs of offending platforms

Delhi HC restrains illegal streaming of Warner Bros content, directs ISPs to block URLs of offending platforms

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court has directed the Internet and Telecom Service Providers to block the websites and the URLs of online content streaming platform, and

The Court has also restrained the platform and its owners and associates from hosting, streaming, reproducing and distributing the cinematograph work of Warner Bros Entertainment Inc in any manner.

The Court also stated that the order of restraint shall be applicable to all other domains/domain owners/website operators/entities as well as the mirror websites of the defendant which are discovered during the course of the proceedings and are found to be infringing Warner Bros’s exclusive rights with respect to its intellectual property.

In order to ensure compliance with the order, the Court directed the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to suspend the domain name and issue requisite notifications to this effect.

The interim order was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula in a suit by Warner Bros Entertainment Inc (plaintiff).

It was the plaintiff’s grievance that the defendant platforms were primarily and substantially engaging in hosting and streaming the plaintiff’s original content without any authorization.

Thus, it was contended that the defendant was illegally and unauthorizedly making available the content of various third parties like UTV Software Communications Ltd., STAR India Pvt. Ltd., Disney Enterprises Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., Universal City Studios LLC, and Netflix Entertainment Services India LLP, etc.

The plaintiff argued that its films are works of visual recording and sound recordings which qualify as a “cinematograph film” under Section 2(f) of the Copyright Act and were thus entitled to all rights and protections granted under the Act in light of Section 13(1) read with Section 13(2), Section 5 and Section 40, irrespective of whether the film was released in India or not.

The Court was further informed that a legal notice was also served upon the defendant by the plaintiff, calling upon them to cease from engaging in their infringing activities. However, the defendants continued to infringe the rights in plaintiff’s Original Content.

After hearing the parties, the Court opined that a prima facie case was made out in favour of the plaintiff and balance of convenience also tilted in its favour.

Observing that irreparable harm or injury would be caused to the plaintiff if an ad interim injunction order is not passed, the Court proceeded to restrain the defendant and associates from hosting, streaming, reproducing or distributing the cinematograph work of the plaintiff in any manner.

Taking a cue from the High Court’s order on the issuance of a dynamic  injunction to control rogue websites, the Court said, order for this court to be freed from constant monitoring and adjudicating the issues of mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites it is directed that as and when Plaintiff files an application under Order I Rule 10 for impleadment of such websites, Plaintiff shall file an affidavit confirming that the newly impleaded website is mirror/redirect/alphanumeric website with sufficient supporting evidence. Such application shall be listed before the Joint Registrar, who on being satisfied with the material placed on record, shall issue directions to the ISPs to disable access in India to such mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites.”

Notice was also issued to the defendant in the suit with the direction to file its a written statement to the plaint.

The matter would be taken up by the Joint Registrar on September 27.

Warner Bros was represented by Advocates Suhasini Raina, Saikrishna Rajagopal, Disha Sharma, Snehima Jauhari, Surbhi Pande and Vivek Ayyagri.

[Read Order]

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