While the major Hollywood studios are very reluctant to bring a pirate site blocking case to their home turf, they are very active abroad.
The companies are the driving force behind lawsuits in Europe, Australia, and are also active in India, where they booked a new success last week.
Website blocking is by no means a new phenomenon in India. The country is known for so-called John Doe orders, where a flurry of websites are temporarily blocked to protect the release of a specific title.
The major Hollywood studios are taking a different approach. Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros. are requesting blockades, accusing sites of being structural copyright infringers.
One of the most recent targets is the popular torrent site Rarbg. The Hollywood studios describe Rarbg as a ‘habitual’ copyright infringer and demand that several Internet providers block access to the site.
“It is submitted that the Defendant Website aids and facilitates the accessibility and availability of infringing material, and induce third parties, intentionally and/or knowingly, to infringe through their websites by various means,’ the movie studios allege.
The complaint filed at the High Court of Delhi lists more than 20 Internet providers as co-defendants, and also includes India’s Department of Telecommunications and Department of Electronics and Information Technology in the mix.
The two Government departments are added because they have the power to enforce blocking orders. Specifically, the Hollywood studios note that the Department of Technology’s license agreement with ISPs requires these companies to ensure that copyright infringing content is not carried on their networks.
“It is submitted that the DoT itself acknowledges the fact that service providers have an obligation to ensure that no violation of third party intellectual property rights takes place through their networks and that effective protection is provided to right holders of such intellectual property,” the studios write.
Last week the court granted an injunction that requires local Internet providers including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Telenor, You Broadband, and Vodafone to block Rarbg.
As requested, the Department of Telecommunications and Department of Electronics and Information Technology are directed to notify all local internet and telecom service providers that they must block the torrent site as well.
The order is preliminary and can still be contested in court. However, given the history of similar blocking efforts around the world, it is likely that it will be upheld.
While there’s not much coverage on the matter, this isn’t the first blocking request the companies have filed in India. Last October, a similar case was filed against another popular torrent site, 1337x.to, with success.
TorrentFreak reached out to the law firm representing the Hollywood studios to get a broader overview of the blocking plans in India. At the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.
A copy of the order obtained by Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, Warner Bros and the local Disney owned media conglomerate UTV Software, is available here (pdf).