Thursday 2 August 2012

India: ISPs ordered to block URLs containing film name

Blocking injunctions have been much talked about in the UK over the last year, with the Newzbin II and Pirate Bay cases paving new ground. So far the UK courts have only issued injunctions requiring specific ISPs to block specific sites known to contain infringing content. They have been wary not to overly restrict ISPs, and are mindful that there can  be no general obligation to monitor (Article 15 of the E-Commerce Directive; SABAM v Scarlet).

© Rohanlabs
The Indian courts have taken a different approach to blocking injunctions. Today the Madras High Court passed an interim order prohibiting a dozen ISPs and one named individual from uploading the Tamil film "Mirattal" or any portion of it to the Internet. The order also prohibits facilitating downloads of the film. In addition, the Court granted five "John Doe" orders imposing the same restrictions on persons whose identity is not know at the time that the order is granted.

The first John Doe (or Ashok Kumar) order to be granted in India was in respect of Tamil film "3". It was controversially used to block sites containing pirated material not associated with the film, requiring the courts to clarify that it was only to be used to block URLs containing the name of the film. How this was dealt with in practice, given that the film was called "3", is not clear.

In today's order all URLs containing "Mirattal" are blocked, however the trailer and soundtrack are not protected by the order.
Does anyone know how this type of order works in practice? It seems incredibly broad, making it difficult for ISPs to implement and for rightsholders to enforce. And how does it operate in relation to URLs containing the word "Mirattal" which do not point to sites containing the film, for instance those pointing to sites reviewing the film?

1 comment:

Andy J so said...

I don't know how this sort of order can be implemented in practice, but it is so incredibly easy to circumvent that I'm surprised the court has ordered it. In Europe and the US, file sharers who use the cyber lockers rather than torrent sites have been hiding their files behind names using innocuous codes and reference numbers for some time. They also often then zip the file or more frequently use .rar plus a password to encapsulate the file which makes detection, even at deep packet level, much more difficult for crawlers and bots.