Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: In an application filed by Universal Studios and other streaming platforms seeking a permanent injunction against 26 infringing websites for distributing their copyrighted work on the internet without any license or authorisation, a Single Judge Bench of Anish Dayal, J. granted a ‘Dynamic+ injunction’ holding that the actions of the infringing websites were hydra-headed.


An application was filed under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (‘CPC’) as part of the accompanying suit filed by the plaintiffs seeking a permanent injunction to restrain the defendants and all those acting on their behalf from hosting, streaming, reproducing, distributing, or disseminating on the internet in any manner whatsoever any cinematograph work/content/programme of which the plaintiffs hold copyright without any authorization.

The plaintiff nos. 1-6 are owners of the content and companies which are incorporated in the United States of America. They are also members of the Motion Pictures Association (‘MPA’). Universal Studios, the plaintiff, claimed that they are a leading global enterprise engaged in creating, producing, and distributing motion pictures and cinematograph films.

Universal Studios mentioned that the works created by them include sound recordings accompanied with visuals and qualify as ‘cinematograph film’ under Section 2(f) of the Copyright Act, 1957 (‘Act’) which is why they are entitled to protection by virtue of Section 13(1) read with Sections 13(2) and (5) of the Act.

The ‘cinematograph films’ in question include works of Universal, Warner, Columbia, Netflix, Paramount, and Disney. The plaintiffs thus claim to have exclusive rights under Section 14(d) read with Section 17 of the Act. The grievance was against the acts of 26 websites that carried and disseminated content consisting of the plaintiff’s copyrighted works without any license or authorisation.

Analysis and Decision

The Court noted that defendants 27 to 35 were various Internet Service Providers (‘ISPs’) who were available domestically in India and provided access to internet in India. The Court stated that they were in a position to ensure, that access to the infringing websites was not available.

The Court noted that the plaintiffs had made out a prima facie case for the grant of an ex-parte ad interim injunction and also a dynamic injunction. Further, the Court said that the balance of convenience lies in favour of plaintiffs as irreparable loss would be caused if the same is not granted.

The Court directed defendants 1 to 26 including their owners, partners, proprietors, officers, servants, affiliates, employees, and all others in the capacity of principal or agent acting for and, on its behalf, to be restrained from communicating to the public, hosting, storing, reproducing, streaming, broadcasting, re-broadcasting, causing to be seen or heard by the public on payment of charge or making the content available through their websites.

The Court directed the Domain Name Registrar to lock and suspend the domain names of the infringing websites upon being intimated by the plaintiffs. The Court also directed that the details related to the registrants of the said domain names including KYC, credit cards, mode of payment, mobile number, etc. shall also be provided to the plaintiffs.

Defendants 27 to 35 — ISPs were directed to block access to the infringing websites within 48 hours of receipt of this order, and defendants 36 and 37 — The Department of Telecommunication and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology were directed to take steps through appropriate communications and notices to ensure that the ISPs including other ISPs that are registered with them comply with the directions given.

The Court found it fit to grant a ‘Dynamic+ injunction’ to keep up with the hydra-headed nature of the infringement actions of the infringing domains/websites so that the copyrighted works are protected as soon as they are created to ensure that no irreparable loss is caused to the owners of the copyrighted works since there was an imminent possibility of works being uploaded on the infringing websites or their newer versions immediately thereafter.

The Court permitted the plaintiffs to implead any mirror/redirect/alphanumeric variations of the websites identified in the suit including those websites that are associated with them either based on the name, branding, identity, or even source of content by applying under Order I Rule 10 of CPC in case these websites provide new means of accessing the primary infringing websites that have been injuncted.

The Court stated that the plaintiffs would also be at liberty to file such appropriate application seeking protection of copyrighted works, including future works if needed. Further, the Court said that if an application is filed along with an affidavit and sufficient evidence to seek an extension of the injunction to the websites listed before the Joint Registrar, the injunction would become operational against the said websites and the works.

[Universal City Studios Productions LLLP v. Movies123.LA, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 3852, Order dated 16-05-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Plaintiffs — Advocate Siddharth Chopra, Advocate Suhasini Raina, Advocate Anjali Agrawal, Advocate Mehr Sidhu

For Defendants — None

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