Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: RI Chagla J. granted an ad-interim injunction in favour of the producers of the film “Janhit Mein Jaari” and directed the defendants to remove infringing links with immediate effect.

The Applicants/Plaintiffs are producers of the cinematography film titled “Janhit Mein Jaari which was released worldwide and in India on 10-06-2022, on approx. 600 screens with a Censor certificate. The plaintiff filed the present Suit against defendant 1 firm i.e., Telegram App on which links were available on chat groups through which the subject film was available for download which was eventually deactivated after the filing of complaint by the plaintiffs. An ad-interim injunction is sought by the applicant for removal and/ or deletion of infringing links enumerated at with immediate effect and for provision of police assistance to the Applicants in such removal and deletion of the infringing links.

The present suit was also filed to seek “John Doe” action against Defendant 2 which is an unknown entity, directly infringing the copyright held by the producers/Plaintiffs in the film as these unknown Defendants appear to have no license and/or authority to make available a copy of the film to the public.

To read about what is a John Doe Order refer HERE

Counsel for applicants/plaintiffs contended that huge losses are suffered by them in the theaters due to such piracy of the subject film being displayed on the infringing links and there is further revenue loss because OTT platform and/or any further distributions would not want to execute deals with the plaintiffs since they would not find subscribers for the film, since the film is freely available online.

Reliance is appositely placed on Red Chillies Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. v. Hathway Sonali Om Crystal Cable Pvt. Ltd., Notice of Motion (L) 3549 of 15 in Suit (L) 1326 of 15 order dated 17-12-2015, where the Court has in John Doe actions of copyright infringement passed an ad interim injunction restraining the defendants from putting on Cable TV network/disseminating/reproducing exhibiting on internet or otherwise making available to the public the suit film as well as further injunction restraining the defendants from making copies of the suit film and/or giving on hire, or offer for sale or hire any copy of the suit film and to communicate the suit film to the public in any manner whatsoever. Further, the defendants had been restrained from distributing or duplicating or communicating or displaying or downloading exhibiting or playing the suit film in any manner without proper licence from the plaintiff. The access to the URL’s were accordingly directed to be blocked by the defendants within 24 hours of receiving the notice by the Plaintiffs giving details of such infringing websites/web-pages to the Internet Service Providers.

The Court thus held “as the John Doe action against Defendant 2 is concerned, I am of the prima facie view that the infringing links set out in Exhibit ‘C’ to the Plaint infringes the copyright of the Plaintiffs in the subject film and therefore, ad-interim relief is necessary to be passed in terms of prayer clauses (b) and (c) of the Interim Application against the Defendant 2 who is the unknown person against whom the Plaintiffs have filed the John Doe action.”

The (b) and (c) prayer are as follows:

“(b) Pass an order and mandatory injunction of this Court directing the Defendants by themselves, their servants, agents, licensees, franchisees, partners, proprietors and/or otherwise howsoever to remove and/or delete the infringing links enumerated at Exhibit “C” with immediate effect;

(c) Pass an order directing the concerned police stations to render necessary assistance to the Applicants in restraining the Defendants from violating /infringing the Applicants’ copyright in the suit film titled “Janhit Mein Jaari.”

[Bhanushali Studios Ltd. v. Telegram Messenger LLP, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 1290, decided on 16-06-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. Megha Chandra Bagchi, Ms. Mahalakshmi G and Ms. Savani Vaze, Advocates, for the applicants/plaintiff;

Mr. Kingshuk Banerjee and Ms. Isha Srivastava (Khaitan & Co.), Advocates, for defendant 1.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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