Access Denied

Shemaroo Entertainment has obtained a John Doe order (pdf) from the Bombay High Court, aimed at stopping piracy of its latest release ‘Hunterrr’. According to the Shemaroo, it came across several links online which let users download ‘Hunterrr’ for free, prior to release. While these links were dormant then, the company claims “these links will be activated immediately after the release of the movie”.

Shemaroo has named five multi-system-operators as defendants, along with other ‘unknown persons that are likely to infringe the copyright’, referred to as “John Doe” globally, and “Ashok Kumar” in India. The court has issued an interim injunction for now and will place this Motion for hearing in May.

John Doe orders allow movie studios to push ISPs to indiscriminately block access to video sharing, filesharing and torrenting sites. As we mentioned before when a John Doe order was issued for Gangs of Wasseypur, courts need to take into consideration the misuse of John Doe orders by movie studios and ISPs to block legitimate access to websites, instead of getting specific links taken down.

For example, the John Doe order in case of the order received from the Madras High Court, for the films 3 and Dammu, led to the blocking of several websites including Dailymotion, Vimeo and The Pirate Bay (a complete list here). Other than this, the Delhi High Court, the Mumbai High court and the Madras High Court have all granted John Doe orders for blocking websites in the past.

Interestingly in September last year, in what is an important and hopefully a precedent setting move, Justice Manmohan Singh refused to issue a John Doe order, and asked for evidence of prior copyright infringement for each and every site that Fox Star Studios claimed was likely to infringe their copyright. However, the phrase “..such other websites that may subsequently be notified by the plaintiff to be infringing of its exclusive rights”, indicates that the movie studio can still get any website blocked, dashing hopes of a significant reform.

Ideally, blocking should be an exception, and not the norm that it has become. Even if blocks are instituted, here’s how it should be done. Visitors to a blocked website should be informed about the fact that the website has been blocked, who has asked for the site to be blocked, who has issued an order for the site to be blocked, why the website has been blocked, how a block can be removed and a link with a public listing of all the blocks. More on this here.

Read also:

Update: ACT Broadband reportedly blocking torrent sites in Bangalore
Dhoom 3: Yash Raj Films Gets Court Order For Blocking Websites
Updated: Airtel Blocks Vimeo, DailyMotion & All Major Torrent Sites In India Following John Doe Order
MPA: 36 Hours Too Long For Removing Illegal Content; John Doe Orders Are A Preventive Measure
Need Specificity In Court Orders On Online Copyright Violation In India, Transparency From ISPs
Reliance Entertainment Gets Order To Block Piracy Of “Bodyguard” On File Sharing Sites

Image source: Grumpy cat