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Masaan gets John Doe order for blocking websites


File sharing websites are likely to be blocked, because Phantom Films has been granted a “John Doe” order by the Bombay High Court for blocking sites that may be used to pirate its movie Masaan. John Doe (or Ashok Kumar) orders allow movie studios to push ISPs to indiscriminately block access to video sharing, filesharing and torrenting sites, that they believe can be used to pirate the film.

John Doe and Ashok Kumar refer to unnamed persons that, according to the court order, “are likely to infringe the copyright” of Phantom Films, a co-producer of Masaan. Apart from the unnamed entities, the case was also filed against Sonali Cable Vision, SpectraNet (an ISP), Manish Realties, Macassar Productions, and Sikhya Entertainment.

The Delhi High court had issued a similar order last month, granting a John Doe order to Fox Star Studio and Phantom Films for the movie Bombay Velvet.

From the court order

Phantom films submitted a list of dormant links which it claims will be activated once the movie releases.

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(Phantom Films) has on 18th  July 2015, come across several links on the internet which offer a facility of free download of the Plaintiff’s movie “Masaan” from these links and websites. Currently these links are dormant. However, it is the case of the Plaintiff that considering the experience of the Plaintiff and other producers of films of the unlawful piracy trade operating   in   the   country,   these   links   will   be   activated immediately after the release of the movie; the movie would be illegally recorded and copies would thereafter be illegally made available for free download on these sites.

Once the links get activated, piracy will be impossible to prevent

It is the case of the Plaintiff that once this is accomplished, it will be well neigh impossible for the Plaintiff to monitor the   recipients   through   free   downloads   from   these   sites   and   further proliferation of pirated copies of the Plaintiff’s movie. The Plaintiff has disclosed these links in the plaint.

View the court order here.

List of sites submitted isn’t public

As we mentioned earlier when a John Doe order was issued for Gangs of Wasseypur, courts need to take into consideration the misuse of John Doe orders by movie studios and ISPs to block legitimate access to websites, instead of getting specific links taken down.

For example, the John Doe order in case of the order received from the Madras High Court, for the films 3 and Dammu, led to the blocking of several websites including Dailymotion, Vimeo and The Pirate Bay (a complete list here).

The list of sites submitted to the court, if at all, have not been made available.

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Some John Doe orders issued earlier

– In May 2015, Fox Star Studio and Phantom Films got a John Doe order for Bombay Velvet. More here.

– In March 2015, Shemaroo got a John Doe order from the Bombay High Court, for the movie Hunterrr. Shemaroo had named five multi-system-operators as defendants, along with John Doe.

– In September last year, Fox Star Studios got a John Doe order for the movie Bang Bang, which got 72 websites blocked.

– Back in 2012, Viacom18 had received a “John Doe” order for the film Gangs Of Wasseypur from the Bombay High Court.

– In 2012 , an order received from the Madras High Court, for the films 3 and Dammu, led to the blocking of several websites including Dailymotion, Vimeo and The Pirate Bay (a complete list here).

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– In 2012,  Tamil film ‘3’ (also made in Telugu and Hindi) received a John Doe order. The film’s producers R K Productions Private Limited filed a civil suit in the Madras High Court, to prevent copyright infringement, and were granted an interim injunction, directing ISPs from infringing copyright of the Producer in the film by communicating or duplicating or downloading and uploading it in any manner without a proper licence.

– The Indian Music Industry (IMI), an industry consortium of 142 music companies, had obtained orders from the Calcutta High Court directing all Internet Service Providers (387 ISPs) to block 104 music sites which offered pirated music, starting with Songs.pk, the same year. Fifteen days after the order, 68 of the sites were reportedly blocked on MTNL Delhi.

– In July 2011, several ISPs including Airtel had blocked access to file sharing sites Mediafire.com, Megaupload.com, Rapidshare.com, Sendspace.com, Megavideo.com etc. Initially, the reason for the block was suggested as an order from the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), however it was later revealed that the block was instituted because of a John Doe order from the Delhi High Court, allowing Reliance Big Pictures to prevent piracy of its movie Singham.

– The same year, Reliance Entertainment got yet another John Doe order from the Delhi High Court to prevent piracy of its movie Bodyguard.


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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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