The ongoing COVID pandemic has taken away people’s ability to enjoy films in a theatre. Naturally, streaming services are experiencing blockbuster growth as people quarantined at home, and some streaming services are getting almost 200% more viewers during the lockdown.
Disney has launched the streaming service Disney+ in India during April 2020 by partnering with Hotstar.
Disney is trying to ensure that they do not lose out any subscriber from the websites providing access to their content without having appropriate rights.
Disney recently filed a case against popular streaming websites that are allegedly enabling the illegal streaming of their creative work which includes films and other entertainment programmes. Disney has also added the ISPs and the DoT and MEITY as parties to the case to ensure that the order can be enforced.
The Delhi High Court has passed restraining order.
The Delhi High Court has restrained the Defendants from hosting, streamlining, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public and/or communicating to the public or facilitating the same on their websites through the internet in any manner whatsoever, any cinematograph work, content, programme and show in which Disney has copyright.
This injunction shall also operate in respect of the mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites, which are put in play to grant access to these websites. The Court has granted liberty to file “application under Order I Rule 10 of the CPC to array other rogue websites if the same are discovered after the issuance of the instant interim order.
It is also interesting to note that the Court has ordered that all the deficiencies referred to in the interim applications should be rectified within five days of the lockdown measures enforced in the Court functioning shall be lifted.
The order is silent on any steps (usually in the form of DCMA notice and takedown request) that may have been taken by Disney prior to filing the case. Further, the Delhi High Court has passed orders to block the entire website and not the exact URL of the infringing material.
Blocking of the entire website is only done only when the website is found to be ‘rouge’ i.e operational for infringing others’ rights. In the earlier case of Utv v 1337x.to, the UTV court had laid down a list of certain factors that should be considered to determine whether a website falls within the meaning of a ‘rogue’ website. However, in this case, the order uploaded does not contain a detailed analysis of the factors discussed in the UTV order.
The larger picture
Although the Court did take relevant action to prevent infringement of copyright rights of Disney, the order leaves a lot unsaid.
Website blocking is a complex issue which is growing in severity. It’s high time India has more robust laws which deal with the new age issues like blocking a website and broader concerns like freedom of (online) speech, piracy and digital rights. The internet freedom foundation has written in-depth about the lack of transparency in website blocking by various ISP.
The complete order of the Delhi High Court can be accessed here.