India is no stranger to blocking pirate sites. Just last week, a court ordered local Internet service providers to block more than 1,200 sites to prevent the spread of a single movie.
Now, however, it appears that there additional legal moves underway to ensure that sites are not only blocked temporarily but also on a more permanent basis.
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Over the past several weeks the High Court in Delhi has been handling many separate applications for permanent injunction filed by US-based Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
In all cases, the company states that several of its copyrighted works – movies Aquaman, A Star is Born, Wonder Woman, plus TV show Arrow – were made available via a broad range of torrent, streaming, linking, and proxy-type sites.
The complaints also cite works by studios including Columbia, Paramount, Universal, and Netflix as further examples of content being infringed on the platforms.
In just one of the complaints the list of infringing domains runs to 124 and includes some very well known names including local giant Tamilrockers, TorrentDownload.ch, TorrentDownloads.me and EZTV, iStole.it, Zoink.it, Torrents.me, Torrents.io, Zooqle, MovieRulz, LimeTorrents, Bolly4u, KatMovie, Monova, and 9xMovies.
In many cases, multiple domains are listed for the above sites, including alternates, proxies and other variants that are accessible via various unblocking platforms. All are accused of infringing the rights of Warner Bros. by providing access to its movie and TV shows content without authorization.
“[D]efendant Websites are primarily and substantially engaged in communicating to the public, hosting, streaming and/or making available to the public Plaintiff’s original content without authorization, and/or facilitating the same,” one order reads.
The order covering the above sites notes that Warner investigated and then served legal notices on the platforms ordering them to cease-and-desist. However, it’s reported that none acted to prevent their infringing activities.
To boost its case, Warner also informed the Court that some of the sites have already been blocked in other jurisdictions (including the UK, Portugal, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Russia, and Italy) for similar behavior.
After consideration, the Court found that there is a prima facie case and Warner should be awarded an interim injunction to prevent the sites from continuing their infringing activities. Furthermore, the sites should have their domains blocked by ISPs in India, to prevent further damage and losses.
The Court also addressed the issue of additional domains or platforms appearing to circumvent any blocking, by granting Warner permission to file additional updates with the Court that will allow for such mechanisms to be disabled by ISPs via an expedited process.
The example order detailed above is very specific, in that it orders ISPs to block the domain names of the sites plus a list of IP addresses. However, the vast majority appear to be using Cloudflare, so it remains to be seen whether the ISPs will use discretion or blindly block, which could cause considerable disruption to other sites using the same IP locations.
In some of the orders, it appears that domain registrars are also required to suspend domain names belonging or connected to various sites, including TamilRockers, Hindilinks4u, Otorrents, Filmlinks4u, Mp4Moviez, Series9.io, uWatchFree, OnlineWatchMovies, MovieRulzFree, and SkyMovies.
Several additional applications from Warner are on record at the Delhi High Court but are yet to be published as interim orders.