Delhi high court cracks down on piracy, bans 30 torrent websites

  • The HC bans the torrent sites from hosting, streaming, reproducing or distributing the content having copyright
  • UTV Communications and Twentieth Century Fox had moved court seeking a ban on torrent websites

Prathma Sharma
Updated16 Apr 2019
Permanent Injunction issued by the Delhi HC against torrent sites to protect the original content.
Permanent Injunction issued by the Delhi HC against torrent sites to protect the original content.(istockphoto)

The Delhi high court has banned around 30 torrent sites from using content that violate the copyright of film production companies such as Twentieth Century Fox and UTV Software Communication Ltd.

The court has banned these sites from hosting, streaming, reproducing or distributing such content, including movies, music and shows.

“This court is of the view that since website blocking is a cumbersome exercise and majority of the viewers/subscribers who access, view and download infringing content are youngsters who do not have knowledge that the said content is infringing and/or pirated, it directs the MEITY/DOT to explore the possibility of framing a policy, under which a warning is issued to the viewers of the infringing content...and cautioning the viewers to cease viewing/downloading the infringing material,” Justice Manmohan said in his order dated 10 April.

“In the event the warning is not heeded to and the viewers/subscribers continue to view, access or download the infringing/pirated content, then a fine could be levied on the viewers/subscribers,” he added.

The Delhi high court said the websites and their owners, partners, proprietors, officers, employees and all agents acting for or on their behalf should be permanently restrained from hosting, streaming, reproducing or distributing any cinematograph work or content having copyright.

It also directed internet service providers, such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and MTNL, and the department of telecommunication (DoT) and the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) to issue a notification to telecom service providers to block access to the sites.

In its order, the court also said that “mirror”, or “hydra headed” websites, floated by rogue websites to provide the same content, should also be blocked to check piracy.

To deal with this problem of “hydra headed websites; the plaintiffs shall file an affidavit confirming that the newly added website is a mirror/redirect/alphanumeric website with sufficient supporting evidence and an application under Order 1 Rule 10 to be impleaded as a party. On being satisfied that the impugned website is indeed a mirror/redirect/alphanumeric website of a Rogue Website(s) and merely provides new means of accessing the same primary infringing website, the Joint Registrar shall issue directions to ISPs to disable access in India to such mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites in terms of the orders passed.

The court said that a rogue website involved in streaming illicit or infringing material, should be examined with a “qualitative approach and not a quantitative one”.

It added that a website should not be judged on the “percentage of legitimate content”, but on whether “the primary purpose of the website is to commit or facilitate copyright infringement”, besides its “silence or inaction after the receipt of take down notices pertaining to copyright infringement”.

UTV Communications and Twentieth Century Fox had moved court seeking directions to ban torrent websites, such as RARBG, YTS, ExtraTorrent and Pirate Bay, which were involved in streaming pirated versions of original content produced by them.

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