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Rajnikanth’s latest movie Kabali has been leaked online on Vimeo, a video streaming platform, and the link is being circulated via WhatsApp. According to statistics displayed on Vimeo, the movie has already been viewed (or started) 2.4 million times. MediaNama has verified that the uploaded movie is Kabali, but we’re not publishing the link so as to not spread it. A reader pointed out to us that the uploaded video was pre-recorded from inside a theater and not a soft print. The films lead producer Thanu Subramaniam, was unavailable for comment when we tried to contact him.

MediaNama has also written to Vimeo to understand if it has received takedown requests from Kabali’s producers.   We will update the story once we hear from them.

“Vimeo is fully committed to removing infringing content posted by users. We received a takedown notice last night (New York time) from the copyright holder and removed copies of the video first thing this morning,” a spokesperson from Vimeo told MediaNama.

Vimeo has been blocked many times in India: for example, in May 2012 following a John Doe order taken by Copyright Labs, Chennai, from the Madras High Court, for preventing piracy of Telugu film Dammu and Tamil film 3.

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Theaters are being particularly careful about Kabali: While attending the film’s first show at morning 4:30 AM in local theater in Coimbatore, I wasn’t allowed to carry even my smartphone into the venue.

This leak comes at a time when the film’s producers sought a restraining order at the Madras High Court, order asking ISPs to block access to over 225 websites that allegedly involves in piracy. The Chennai HC on Friday passed an interim order restraining 169 ISPs from proving access to those websites. We are not sure if Vimeo is on the list.

A screen grab of the Vimeo link being circulated in a WhatsApp group along with other links:

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A Hindustan Times report on Monday claimed that Kabali was leaked online on darknets, while the Censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani denied the possibility of the movie being leaked by sources at censor board CBFC, oddly saying that, “It is the smaller films featuring non-A-listers which get hit by the leakage.”

How will this impact John Doe orders?

This might adversely impact changes in the courts approach to John Doe orders: on July 4th, the Bombay HC declined to pass two John Doe orders stating that “they were directed against to entire websites”, saying that only specific URLs with infringing content will be blocked, the blocks will be time-bound.

Vimeo not liable for ‘user uploads’ of copyright content

A US court last week ruled that Vimeo cannot be held liable for copyright infringements after its users uploaded copyrighted music content belonging to Capitol Records and Sony Corp, as indicated by this Reuters report. Vimeo employees had access to the copyrighted material and was even proved in court that they viewed the material online. However, the US court added that this was not enough to prove the company involved in copyright infringement directly.

Nikhil Pahwa adds: In India Vimeo is technically protected under section 79 of the IT Act, since it is not responsible for the content uploaded by its users. Those sharing the link are also not responsible, if they haven’t published the video. Only the entity which has uploaded the content is responsible for piracy, and this makes it tricky for movie producers. Please note: in case the producers of Kabali wish to get the link of the video, for a takedown request to Vimeo, please contact nikhil@medianama.com