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Bang Bang: No John Doe order, but Fox Star Studios submits list of 72 sites for blocking

With the Bollywood film Bang Bang due to release on October 2nd, Fox Star Studios moved the Delhi High Court last Friday to seek blocking of websites that might end up making the film available for download on the Internet. In what is an important, and hopefully, a precedence setting move, Justice Manmohan Singh refused to issue a John Doe order, and asked for evidence of prior copyright infringement for each and every site that Fox Star Studios claimed was likely to infringe their copyright. Fox Star Studios, represented by Saikrishna & Associates, prepared a list of 72 websites. Two among them were mentioned in court today: Cloudy.ec, which has the film Bullet Raja uploaded since 12th July 2013, and Moviesdunia.in, which even lists Bang Bang as “coming soon”.

Speaking on behalf of Fox Star Studios, Saikrishna Rajagopal said that each of the sites in the list are “rogue websites”, and it is often difficult to identify the owners of these sites. Content is made available for download in a manner that it coincides with theatrical release. He referred to the Sony FIFA case, saying that if they merely provide URL’s of infringing content, alternative URL’s will come up.

The counsel representing the ISPs mentioned that they would abide by the order of the court (to block sites), but the difference between the FIFA order and this is that, in case of FIFA, infringing websites were easily identifiable because the World Cup was on progress. Some  sites host legitimate content as well, he said.

Our Take

We’ll update with a list of blocked sites once it is available. Hopefully, given that Justice Manmohan Singh has asked for evidence, we won’t have a list as broad and inaccurate as the first list that had been submitted in the FIFA case. We also hope that a precedence is set regarding blocks, and a timeframe for blocks is specified, unlike in case of the FIFA case, where blocks weren’t removed until two weeks after the World Cup 2014 ended.

While we don’t like the idea of websites being blocked, instead of specific URL’s, copyright owners have a point, in that every time a URL is blocked, 10 more can surface, with the same content. The discussion in India hasn’t moved to a nuanced one, like the case of torrent sites, which merely provide access to torrent files, and not infringing content itself, which are downloadable via distributed P2P networks. It’s doubtable that we’ll have that nuanced a discussion, given that torrent and P2P service providers will most likely not be represented in Indian courts.

As as aside, it’s strange that a movie that hasn’t yet released has an IMDB rating.

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