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– By Devika Agarwal

On 21st April, the Bombay HC granted ad-interim injunction relief to Indian Independent Filmmakers Worldwide Association (IIFWA) in a suit for copyright infringement. The suit was filed by IIFWA, a body of independent film-makers formed with the objective of “promoting, supporting and nurturing independent cinema by film-makers of Indian origin anywhere in the world”. The main defendant in the case was YouTube LLC, A Delaware Limited Liability Company operating from California and having corporate offices in Gurgaon and Mumbai. Google Inc, which owns YouTube LLC, was also arraigned as a defendant in the suit. The matter was heard ex parte by the Bombay HC.

In 2010, IIFWA started the initiative, “IIFW Masterclass”, a series of video recordings featuring reputed film-makers such as Aparna Sen, Yash Chopra, Shyam Benegal etc. who would share their knowledge of filmmaking with budding filmmakers and movie buffs. The first season of IIFW Masterclass was recorded and televised in the form of a cinematographic film on National Geographic.

After the successful broadcast of the first season, the plaintiff decided to record a second season of IIFW Masterclass; some of the filmmakers in the second season included Rajkumar Hirani and Sudhir Mishra. The second season was subsequently recorded and there was an agreement between IIFWA and several advertisers, producers and TV channels to broadcast the second season of IIFW Masterclass. At the time of recording of the second season, no filming/broadcast by any other person/entity was permitted.

After a week of recording of the IIFW Masterclass session, IIFWA discovered that a video of the debut episode of Season 2 of IIFW Masterclass launched at “FICC FRAMES” 2015 had been uploaded on YouTube; the video was titled “Sudhir Mishra & Rajkumar Hirani | Curtain Raiser of FICCI Frame 2015”.

The Court was of the opinion that a prima-facie case of copyright infringement was made out in favour of IIFWA, since the defendants were absent in the case and had failed to show cause.

The Court granted the following ad-interim relief:

(a) Pending the hearing and final disposal of the suit the defendants herein, and by themselves, their content partners/providers, associates, clients, representatives,  successors in business, assignees distributors, agents or any one claiming through or under them be restrained by an order of interlocutory injunction to cease and desist from exhibiting, communicating, distributing, storing, caching, transmitting in any manner the infringing cinematographic   film which   is   an   infringement   of   the   plaintiffs   copyright   in   the cinematographic film;

(b)Pending the hearing and final disposal the defendants herein, and by themselves, their content partners/providers, associates, clients, representatives, successors in business, assignees distributor, agents or any one claiming through them be and be restrained by an order of interlocutory injunction to expeditiously remove and/or block any and all references to materials and content which fall within the Plaintiff’s copyrights, and any stored, cached or embedded copies of links which will enable copyright infringement of the plaintiffs content.”

The matter would next be heard on 10th June, 2015. Jurisperitus Mumbai represented the plaintiff in the instant case.

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