A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court passed a landmark judgment on 29th July 2016, directing the blocking of pirate websites. Drawing a distinction with blocking individual urls or links the Hon’ble Division Bench comprising of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice A.K. Pathak observed that, “in relation to websites which have hardly any lawful business and which are in entirety or to a large extent indulging in piracy, merely blocking a URL where the infringing content is located not an effective solution.”
The order comes in an appeal filed by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, asserting that they cannot be made parties in a purely private dispute between copyright owners and infringers. The appeal also argued that no direction should be issued to the government to issue notifications directing internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to a website showing infringing content, or that the order of injunction to restrict and disable access should only be vide a URL where the infringing content is located and not to block the entire website. The Hon’ble Division Bench rejected both arguments, and has held that it is the “duty of the Government, its instrumentalities and agencies to assist in the enforcement of orders passed by the Courts.” The court however also gave leave to parties to approach the court if it was found that a website was not “entirety or to a large extent indulging in piracy” to request that individual urls be blocked instead of a website.
With the recent controversies surrounding the release of recent films like Great Grand Masti, Sultan, Dishoom, Kabali being infringed online, online piracy and the measures to address such piracy is being debated across jurisdictions, including the Bombay and Madras High Courts.
“This is the first time that a division bench has authoritatively pronounced on the issue of online piracy and deliberated on the (acceptable) measures to address such piracy. We believe that this landmark judgment will have a positive impact as it creates a fair balance between rights owners and public interest allowing for rights owners to more efficiently protect their rights against outright rogue or pirate websites that blatantly infringe copyright and contain large extent of infringing content,” said Saikrishna Rajagopal, Founding and Managing Partner of Saikrishna & Associates represented Star India Pvt. Ltd. in this matter.
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