In recent years, website blocking has become one of the most widely-used anti-piracy enforcement mechanisms in the world.
ISPs in several dozen countries prevent subscribers from accessing a variety of ‘pirate’ sites, often in response to a court order.
These orders often started as basic injunctions, requiring providers to block one or more domain names. Today, many courts issue dynamic injunctions too, allowing rightsholders to add new domain names or IP-addresses, without returning to court.
Dynamic blocking orders are also common in India with courts noting that the flexible approach helps to combat pirate site ‘hydras’. India is also known for another progressive site blocking strategy, one that targets piracy before it happens.
Preemptive Spider-Man Piracy Blockade
This week the Delhi High Court in New Delhi granted a site blocking order requested by Sony Pictures. This injunction aims to protect the upcoming release of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” which is scheduled to premiere in theaters later this week.
As far as we know, no pirated versions of the film are currently available online. Sony doesn’t mention any in its application either but expects rogue copies to appear on known pirate sites in the near future. To limit this potential piracy, these sites should be blocked, the studio argued.
The application lists 101 pirate sites including variants of The Pirate Bay, YTS, RARBG, LimeTorrents, Fmovies, Myflixer, 123movies and others. Many of these already share copies of the 2018 film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and are allegedly “in the process” of pirating the sequel too.
After reviewing the available evidence, Justice C Hari Shankar of the Delhi High Court comments as follows:
“The facts of the case as recited hereinabove indicate that the plaintiff’s copyright in the films ‘Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse’ and ‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’ have/are in the process of being infringed and violated by the Defendants 1 to 101.”
Mirrors and Copies are Covered
The owners of the pirate sites were alerted to the proceeding last week but it appears that none have objected formally. As a result, Justice Shankar issued an order that prohibits the operators from making pirated copies of the Spider-Man films available to the public.
In addition, Indian Internet providers are ordered to block access to the pirate sites’ listed domain names, as well as any proxies and mirrors that may come online in the future.
“[The Internet providers] are directed to block access to the websites at S. Nos. 1 to 101, as well as any mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites which appear to be associated with any of the said websites,” the order reads.
This leads to the intriguing situation that ISPs must block domain names, including those that have yet to be registered, to protect a film that is expected to be pirated in the future.
These types of preemptive blocking orders are not new in India. Similar ones have been issued previously and there’s little doubt that rightsholders such as Sony will request more of them in the future.
A copy of Justice C Hari Shankar’s order is available here (pdf). The full list of domain names mentioned in the order reads as follows:
17) thepiratebay3 .to
46) aiofi lm.top
72) moviesj oy.plus