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News Heading  : No More John Doe Orders? Indian ISPs Get Court Order For Specificity In URL Blocks

Post Date : 2012-06-20

News Source : Medianama.com

News By :

News Details  :

The Madras High Court has granted some relief to Internet users in India, courtesy an appeal filed by a consortium of Internet Service Providers asking for specificity in complaints of infringing content, instead of a John Doe/Ashok Kumar order. The order, issued on the 15th of June 2012, of which MediaNama has a copy, states:
“The order of interim injunction dated 25/04/2012 is hereby clarified that the interim injunction is granted only in respect of a particular URL where the infringing movie is kept and not in respect of the entire website. Further, the applicant is directed to inform about the particulars of URL where the interim movie is kept within 48 hours.”
Readers might have noticed that, over the weekend, Indian ISPs enabled access to sites like Vimeo, The Pirate Bay, among others. These sites had been previously blocked because of a John Doe order granted to Copyright Labs (for the movie Dhammu). The John Doe order, against a nameless entity, which allowed studios to tell ISPs to block user access to many video sharing and torrent websites pre-emptively, to prevent uploading of content.
The clarification from the Madras High Court came following a representation to the court by a consortium of ISPs, pointing out the John Doe order has also led to legitimate content being disabled, and they can still block access to infringing content when informed by the studios. Copyright Labs had also given to the ISPs, a list of several URLs with pirated content.
On condition of anonymity, an ISP representative told MediaNama that they felt that ISPs were being wrongfully vilified on the Internet, when it was never really their fault, and that they were only complying with the court orders. They felt that it was adversely going to impact their business if video streaming is disabled for users.
Starting with the movie Singham, for which Reliance Entertainment had taken a John Doe order last year, movie studios have been consistently getting John Doe orders blocking access to file sharing, video sharing and torrenting websites.
What This Means
Readers might recall that a John Doe order has recently been granted to Viacom18 for the film theGangs Of Wasseypur. Following the Madras High Court order, which sets a precedent in terms of demands of specificity, ISPs may not comply with requests for blocking of entire websites, and use the Madras High Court order to get the courts to instead ask studios to be specific. Just like the John Doe orders issued in the past set a precedent for more, this order might just set a welcome precedent for specificity. Note that this is the way it should have been, in any case: under the IT Rules (2011), all studios had to do was ask ISPs to block access to specific URLs.
It doesn’t mean that John Doe orders will not be granted, but it does suggest that they will be contested.
I’m quite surprised that the ISPs went and contested these orders: one notion was that with a reduction in video-watching online, their costs would have reduced. However, revenues for mobile operators might also have been impacted, since many of their users choose pay-as-you-go plans, and video streaming would contribute significant revenues.

 
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