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March 26, 2020

Dynamic Injunctions As Relief Against “Rogue Websites”

Author: Krithika Muthuraman

In the matter of Disney Enterprises, Inc. & Ors. v. rlsbb.unblocked.ltda & Ors. [IA No. 14909/2019 in CS(COMM) 594/2019], the Delhi High Court (V. Kameswar Rao, J), vide its Order dated March 12, 2020, granted a dynamic permanent injunction against the impleaded websites restraining them from, inter alia, hosting, streaming on their websites the Plaintiff’s copyrighted works.  

The Plaintiffs are global entertainment companies engaged in the creation, production and distribution of motion pictures. The Defendants (Nos. 1-32) are operators of websites hosting, communicating, and making available for download (without authorization), the Plaintiffs’ copyright content. In the interest of ensuring effective implementation, the Plaintiffs also impleaded the relevant Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the Department of Telecommunications and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology as Defendants. The instant suit for copyright infringement was filed seeking permanent injunction against the operators of the “rogue” websites (and their mirrors/redirects/alphanumericals), and an Order calling upon the ISPs to block access to the said websites.

The Plaintiffs relied on the ruling in UTV Software Communication Ltd. And Ors. v. 1337X.to and Ors. (Delhi High Court, 2019), wherein the Delhi High Court had labelled such unauthorized streaming websites as “rogue” websites and granted a dynamic injunction against them, enabling the Plaintiffs to have any mirrors/redirects/alphanumericals of the websites blocked at any time by using the Court order and submitting sufficient evidence.

Considering the evidence and the factors laid down in UTV Software, viz. primary purpose of the websites, masked & untraceable details of the registrants, inaction despite notices, etc., the Court identified the Defendant websites as “rogue” and granted a dynamic permanent injunction, holding that “…as held by this court in UTV Software Communication Ltd. (supra), in 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 the Plaintiffs file an application under Order I Rule 10 for impleadment of such websites, Plaintiffs 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.”

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