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Balaji Motion Pictures gets a John Doe order against 830 websites: report


Prior to the release of Bollywood movie ‘A Flying Jatt’, its makers Balaji Motion Pictures have secured a John Doe court order against 830 websites that is suspected to infringe copyrights or have infringed copyrights in the past, reports TOI. These sites will remain blocked for a temporary period, while the court also instructed ISPs to block any such sites not listed by Balaji Motions Pictures “within 24 hours of receipt of information on infringement from the film producer,” added the report.

In addition, directors of the movie have claimed protection under the Copyright Act, and named 38 ISPs, 5 cable TV operators and seven unknowns person in its plea. The court however granted restraining order against these parties to stop them from “camcording/recording and allowing others to transmit, communicate or make available, display, release, upload download in any manner whatsoever” copies of the movie even before it is released on theatres, according to the report. “The plaintiff has invested substantial sums of money in the production of the said Film and its promo released officially on YouTube has already garnered over 10 million views,” the court observed during the ruling.

John Does orders have affected people in the past

This week, several ISPs including Tata Communications, MTNL, BSNL, blocked access to torrents sites and other file-sharing sites, owing to a Jon Doe order awarded to Eros International, the makers of Bollywood movie Dishoom. Eros International was initially denied a John Doe order by the Bombay HC in July, since makers were requesting blockade for entire websites. The Bombay HC on August 9th instead served Jon Doe orders only to specific URLs or sub sections of a website that might infringe or already have infringed copyrights in the past, as indicated by a SpicyIP report. Also note that, the email address specified by Tata Communications in its block notice did not work or wasn’t active. This was mandated by the court while it issued John Doe orders for Dishoom, so that unknown parties can file an appeal if they get affected by the ban.

Also Read: Here’s why Bombay High Court declined two John Doe orders

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However, these orders have affected parties who were not actually involved in Piracy or copyright infringement. Madaboutmovies.com, a website involved in movie reviews and discussion were blocked by several ISPs, while its administrator pointed out to us that there was no sort of relief or means to counter the block. The block notice only displayed a text stating that the site was blocked under instructions of a competent authority:

Earlier in July, induna.com, an online retailer of DVDs was blocked by ISPs after two different John Doe were issued by Justice Patel of the Mombay HC, as indicated by SpicyIP. The owners of the website said that they sell original DVDs released by content owners themselves, and have never indulged in piracy; they have been further affected after Google delisted its website and issued the administrators a DMCA Complaint notice, added the report.

A timeline of John Doe orders issued in the past

-Between May to June, at least four “John Doe” orders have been issued by courts in India, for blocking access to any website which might be deemed to host links to pirated content. More on this here.
-In June, The Delhi High Court had granted a John Doe order (or Ashok Kumar order) to Sony Pictures Networks India and Balaji Motion Pictures, for their film Azhar.
–Balaji Motion Pictures had also obtained a John Doe order for its film Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3, which released in January this year.
– In September last year, production company Hakikat Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. had got a similar John Doe order from Delhi HC for its film MSG 2: The Messenger.
– In May 2015, the Delhi HC had granted a John Doe order to Multi Screen Media for its film Piku.
– In the same month, Fox Star Studio and Phantom Films got a John Doe order for Bombay Velvet. More here.
– In March 2015, Shemaroo got a John Doe order from the Bombay High Court, for the movie Hunterrr. Shemaroo had named five multi-system-operators as defendants, along with John Doe.
– In September last year, Fox Star Studios got a John Doe order for the movie Bang Bang, which got 72 websites blocked.
– Back in 2012, Viacom18 had received a “John Doe” order for the film Gangs Of Wasseypur from the Bombay High Court.
– In 2012 , an 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).
– In 2012, Tamil film ‘3’ (also made in Telugu and Hindi) received a John Doe order. The film’s producers R K Productions Private Limited filed a civil suit in the Madras High Court.
– The Indian Music Industry (IMI), an industry consortium of 142 music companies, had obtained orders from the Calcutta High Court directing all Internet Service Providers (387 ISPs) to block 104 music sites.
– In July 2011, several ISPs including Airtel had blocked access to file sharing sites Mediafire.com, Megaupload.com, Rapidshare.com, Sendspace.com, Megavideo.com etc
– The same year, Reliance Entertainment got yet another John Doe order from the Delhi High Court to prevent piracy of its movie Bodyguard.

Image credit: Duncan Hull under CC BY 2.0

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