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Delhi High Court grants relief to STAR India in case of Copyright Infringement

-Report by Prerna Gaur

The honorable High Court of Delhi held in the case of STAR INDIA PVT. LTD. & ANR. versus AAPKEAAJANESE.NET & ORS “rogue websites” that rogue websites were guilty of copyright infringement under Section 51 of the Act and were not entitled to exemptions under 52 (1)(c) of the Act or Section 79 of Information Technology Act, 2000.

FACTS

There is a contention on the behalf of the plaintiff that the defendants are stealing their original content and making it available on their websites which are prohibited under the Copyright Act of 1976 as well as the IT Act. Therefore, the plaintiff is praying for a permanent injunction as well as claiming damages of Rs 2,00,01,000/-. Plaintiff no 1. is a leading entertainment and media Company in India. It is the owner of various television channels and with due permission from Ministry and Broadcasting has exclusive rights to broadcast 64 channels in 8 languages. Plaintiff no.2 is the wholly owned subsidiary of Plaintiff no.1 and is the owner of the digital platform HOTSTAR.

PLAINTIFF’S CONTENTION

These websites are infringing the copyrights of Star India Limited. Plaintiff had asked the honorable court to put down the content from the website and the plaintiff also asked for compensation for the same. It was alleged by the plaintiff that there was illegal and unauthorized distribution, broadcasting, rebroadcasting, transmission and streaming of the plaintiff’s original content by the rogue websites. There were no traceable details of either the registrant or the user of the website. Although legal notices were sent to the defendants, however, there was no response by the defendants. The defendants have not filed any written statements.

Court’s Judgements

The court held that the concerned websites were guilty of copyright infringement under Section 51 of the Act and were not entitled to exemptions under 52 (1)(c) of the Act or Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. As far as “rogue websites” are concerned, the Court identified the following illustrative factors to be considered in determining whether a particular website falls within that class. It was observed

“b. The details of the registrants of each of the websites are masked and no personal or traceable details are available either of the registrant or the user.
c. Despite receipt of legal notices, the Defendants nos. 1 to 67 have not complied with the requests to take down the infringing content.
d. The Defendants nos. 1 to 67 contain directories or indexes to facilitate infringement of copyright.
e. The copyrighted content is available illegally on the websites of the Defendant nos. 1 to 67 and the same is evidenced by the screenshots placed at pages 297 to 1364 of Volume II-VII of the documents filed by the plaintiffs along with the Plaint.”

In light of the above observations, the court held that the plaintiffs are entitled to the relief claimed.

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