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Delhi HC Restrains Websites from Streaming Bigg Boss Without Authorisation and Licenses

the High Court order restrained the sites from broadcasting both telecasted and future episodes, further directing the DoT and the IT Ministry to issue blocking orders for the websites.

The Delhi High Court has restrained five websites from broadcasting, telecasting, streaming, retransmitting and hosting any episodes of the “Bigg Boss” series, following an infringement plaint by media company Viacom18. Issued by Justice Pratibha Singh, the order restrained the sites from broadcasting both telecasted and future episodes.

Justice Singh further directed domain name registrars Dynadot and Namecheap to suspend or lock the domains of the websites. The Department of Telecommunications and the IT Ministry are to issue blocking orders for the websites, which seven Internet Services Providers (listed as defendants) should comply with upon notice from Viacom18 or the government.

Justice Singh added that if Viacom18 finds more websites including the name Bigg Boss, or websites streaming the show illegally, it can file an application impleading them as parties in the current case. Viacom18 would have to provide an affidavit showing that these new sites infringe on Viacom18’s broadcasting rights over the show. Other aspects of the court’s order apply to these websites too—that is, their domain names should be locked, and blocking orders should be issued and complied with.

Multiple news outlets have described this type of order as a “dynamic injunction“. These orders extend blocking orders granted against specific websites to more “rogue” websites. Petitioners can approach the courts and ask them to apply the order to mirror websites enabling access to the protected content that was the subject of the original order.

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What was the case about?: The five streaming sites named in the order were Biggbos.live, Bigg-boss.in, Bigg-boss17.com, Biggboss17online.com, and Biggbosslive.net. Viacom18 alleged that the sites were hosting Bigg Boss for viewing without authorisation or licenses. These Video-On-Demand sites require users to register, subscribe, and then potentially pay to access the content. Viacom18’s lawyers added that they were advertising the upcoming seasons of Big Boss, suggesting that these may be streamed on the websites too. Along with the copyright violation concerns, Viacom18 argued that these practices “are going to completely make a monetary dent” in its business.

After hearing these arguments, Justice Singh observed:

“…The unauthorized and illegal dissemination of the Bigg Boss programmes, irrespective of past and future seasons, would be clear infringement of the Plaintiff’s copyright of broadcast and reproduction rights. If such mushrooming of websites, which also use the name Bigg Boss, is permitted, it would boost piracy and unatuhorised dissemination causing heavy losses to the Plaintiff, which may have obtained the rights in the said event/programme after making considerable investment. The Plaintiff’s OTT channel Jio cinema is also a subscription platform and if the illegal websites are permitted to unauthorizedly telecast these programmes, the subscription base of the Plaintiff is also likely to be jeopardized…”

How is Viacom18 involved with Big Boss?: The show’s format is owned by Endemol Shine IP BV, a production company. The company gave Viacom18 exclusive licenses for the format for seasons 17 and 18 of the Hindi show, seasons 10 and 12 of the Kannada show, and seasons 5 to 8 of the Marathi show. The episodes are broadcast on JioCinema, as well as on the Colors and Colors Kannada TV channels. Viacom18 holds that because of these licenses, it owns the rights over the show’s formats, as well as cinematographic and broadcast reproduction rights.

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