•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student
other

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences
An estimated 12-minute read
 Email  Facebook  Tweet  Linked-in

No One Is Coming To Arrest You.

 

(Before I begin, let me apologise in the beginning itself for any typos, lack of sources shown or missed while writing the present post since it’s a court day and I am doing this on my phone. However, the random questions and calls that I have received on the issue has constrained me to resolve the controversy on this issue, a detailed post or a rectified one, as the case may be, would be posted by Saturday. Please note the intent of the post is simply to put one at ease)

I was originally writing a part-II of earlier John Doe article[i] which is still in works, but I believe this part now has to be titled as Part-II since a lot of turmoil has arisen due to the message,

This URL has been blocked under the instructions of the Competent Government Authority or in compliance with the orders of a Court of competent jurisdiction. Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents under this URL is punishable as an offence under the laws of India, including but not limited to under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957 which prescribe imprisonment for 3 years and also fine of upto Rs. 3,00,000/-. Any person aggrieved by any such blocking of this URL may contact at  who will, within 48 hours, provide you the details of relevant proceedings under which you can approach the relevant High Court or Authority for redressal of your grievance.”

Now most of the people who read the news report[ii] here, and a frenzy of sorts took place that watch out your accessing or viewing this link would land you in jail and my favourite part which makes me giggle like crazy is “Jails Don’t Have Wifi’.

Before breaking this myth, I want to just side track for a moment and apprise the readers of the a recent judgment passed by the Hon'ble High Court of Madras, which talked about, “Couples who have premarital sex to be considered ‘married” a copy of the said report can be viewed here[iii]and the judgment here, in that case the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India came in and gave the intent of the judgment and what it implicated and ended the controversy.

Unfortunately, the present situation is akin to that.

Now in a nutshell, the controversy began with a ‘John Doe’ order taken by Balaji Motion Pictures Ltd for its new production ‘Great Grand Masti’ (hereinafter referred to as the GGM case)[iv] and Eros International Media Limited for its new production ‘Dishoom’[v] (herein referred to as the D case), wherein Justice G.S Patel of the Hon'ble High Court of Bombay initially refused to grant a John Doe order since the details and urls of the websites were vague and essentially not specific URLs. Justice Patel clearly stated, “I will not grant an injunction or order to block URLs that point to websites unless it is demonstrated that the entirety of the website contains, and contains only, illicit material.”[vi]

For the readers, URL is the short version for: Uniform Resource Locator, previously Universal Resource Locator – usually pronounced by sounding out each letter and is the unique address for a file that is accessible on the Internet (URL is a determinative value which opens up a page on the net).

Subsequently, Justice Patel in a very pro and systematic manner to safeguard interests of all parties concerned requested more specific details and clearly held that he won’t pass any orders until such conditions are satisfied. A more robust view on the same has been covered by a lot of blogs special reference can be given to articles on SpicyIP[vii] and Legally India[viii] which were also quoted by Justice Patel himself in its order.

Moving forward, a day prior to its release and with specific safeguards Justice Patel granted John Doe orders in the said matters and passed necessary instructions to all defendants concerned.

Now enters Tata Communications Ltd[ix]. (Hereinafter referred to as TC) essentially stating that it has issues with displaying the information on the blocked URL/page and sought certain remedy from the court, which did not go well with Justice Patel, who essentially got irked and the same can be seen from his order here. To quote the Hon'ble Judge, “There are several solutions that will work. Some of them are utterly obvious and elementary to anybody who has done a beginners’ course in web application coding; a competent 17-year-old would be able to do this…. Tempting though it is to comment on the technical competence, or, more accurately, the abysmal lack of it in even daring to make this suggestion, I will resist and leave it to Tata Communications Limited to do whatever is necessary.”[x]Justice Patel thereafter gave TC three day deadline to comply with its earlier order.

It is interesting to note that at this point no other Internet Service Provider (hereinafter referred to as the ISP) did not come to the Hon'ble High Court of Bombay for any clarification.

Thereafter, again on 12.08.2016, TC yet again approached and suggested that a generic message may be allowed to be posted on the said website rather than a detailed message giving out complete details as ordered by Justice Patel previously. Without going too much into depth, Justice Patel passed the order allowing the said action but on a strict temporary basis, “I will, however, make a slight allowance on Mr. Tulzapurkar’s application for leave to publish a more generic error page, subject to certain conditions. Mr. Tulzapurkar suggests a format that allows an affected party to contact a designated officer of the 11th Defendant. That officer will then provide the necessary information…Moreover, Justice Patel further notes, “I do not claim to be entirely satisfied with this. It is by no means optimal. However, if it allows for greater efficiency and speed in implementation, I am willing to consider it, given that such matters are extremely time-sensitive, and speed of deployment is of the essence. As long as the contact email address of a Nodal Officer is provided and there is an assurance of a response from that Nodal Officer within a reasonable time, taken as an undertaking to this Court (with all that this implies), then it might be worth attempting.”                                                                                                                       (Emphasis Supplied)

This particularly shows the intent of the Hon'ble judge as to how he wanted TC to act. Now before moving forward I had personally also written an email to Tata on its email which I now reproduce(to be perfectly clear on the point I am also attaching screenshots, to prove that the messages has been taken as is.)

 From: abhimanyu.chopra@********* ] 

Sent: 24 August 2016 13:24
To: urlblock <>
Subject: Clarity Required

Many websites are shown as blocked with the following message. 

This URL has been blocked under the instructions of the Competent Government Authority or in compliance with the orders of a Court of competent jurisdiction. Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents under this URL is punishable as an offence under the laws of India, including but not limited to under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957 which prescribe imprisonment for 3 years and also fine of upto Rs. 3,00,000/-. Any person aggrieved by any such blocking of this URL may contact at  who will, within 48 hours, provide you the details of relevant proceedings under which you can approach the relevant High Court or Authority for redressal of your grievance”.

Now neither are you my service provider nor are websites in anyways considered as URLs. So kindly explain in what manner the same has been blocked and by what authority.”

I would also like to point out that my ISP is not TC. Thereafter, I received a message from the TC

On 25-Aug-2016, at 11:57 PM, urlblock <> wrote:

Hi,

The below error message is being displayed under the order dated 12 August 2016 read with the order dated 26 July 2016 passed by Hon’ble High Court of Bombay in the case titled “Eros International Media Limited & Anr. vs. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited & Ors.” (Notice of Motion (L) 2147 of 2016 in Suit (L) 755 of 2016.

“This …grievance.”

If you are aggrieved by the blocking of any URL or in case you have a legitimate complaint against such blocking, we request you to let us know the specific blocked URL so as to enable us to provide you the relevant details for seeking redressal of your grievance.

Regards.”

I thereafter, sent another message and gave specific details

From: Abhimanyu Chopra <abhimanyu.chopra@********>;
Date: 29 August 2016 at 7:39:45 AM IST
To: urlblock <>
Subject: Re: Clarity Required

So, the link is as follows:-

***************

Again I would like to iterate that you are not my internet provider so how come have you blocked services of my ISP. Secondly, as per the orders referred you are only authorised to block particular links and not any websites in total. This is in complete violation of the orders of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court and you are in direct contempt of the same.

Please provide clarity on the said issue.

Please further note that the order itself doesn’t disclose the websites, if any such website is blocked kindly provide details for the same.”

As of now I haven’t received any response from the same. The screenshots of the same are here[xi]

Now I draw reference to the order dated 24.08.2016, which is quite interesting, I am quoting the first paragraph for the purposes of showing that TC has unnecessarily complicated and made an issue of the display message, I have noticed some media reports that comment on the fact that the error pages being displayed by various ISPs giving an impression that “viewing” an illicit copy of a film is a penal offence under the Copyright Act, 1957.This is inaccurate.… The offence is not in viewing, but in making a prejudicial distribution, a public exhibition or letting for sale or hire without appropriate permission copyright–protected material. These error pages appear to have confused the penal provisions regarding obscenity with penalties under the Copyright Act, 1957.

                                                                                                                    (Emphasis Supplied)

As much as I love the fact that Justice Patel has been so judicially conscious of his duties, it is truly delightful and it makes me immensely happy that I am part of a fraternity making a difference. The matter in question have been taken up numerous times with such crisp detailed orders is commendable and I for one thank Justice Patel for his swift measures. According to me, this paragraph ends the controversy and nibs the issue in its bud. However, before I end this article I am constrained to refer the next paragraph which states, “It is no longer possible to leave it to these ISPs to construct appropriate error pages…. The basic purpose must be kept in mind, i.e., so that a person who is inadvertently adversely affected by a blocking order is made aware of his remedies and about which Court he or she can approach for corrective or remedial action.”

                                                                                                                    (Emphasis Supplied)

This matter was thereafter also taken up on 26.08.2016 wherein, Justice Patel blasts TC and states, “I am making it completely clear that I will not countenance any argument from Tata about technical issues that limit what Tata can or cannot do. We are concerned here with orders of the authority or a Court that quite conceivably affect constitutional guarantees, if wrongly invoked. This means that appropriate safeguards must be provided.”

And effectively states, “An even better solution, I imagine, is to eliminate the Nodal Officer altogether. There should be no difficulty in running up an error page which has details of multiple blocks. Any person who arrives at that page while attempting to access a link to an infringing download is bound to know which film's download he was attempting to reach. The error page can contain an indefinite amount of text. The visitor needs only to find the text relevant to the film whose download he was trying to access and that information will be complete in itself…. These blocks do not continue forever but only for a few months. It is only the current pending blocks' information that needs to be displayed. These blocks do not continue forever but only for a few months. It is only the current pending blocks' information that needs to be displayed.”

So for all of you, yes you who plunder the internet, the torrent websites, for a lack of a better closing, in the words of Judge Kozinski[xii].,“The Parties ‘(ALL OF YOU)’are advised to chill.”

 



[iv]Notice Of Motion (L) No. 1940 of 2016 In Suit (L) NO. 694 OF 2016 order dated 01.07.2017 in the matter of Balaji Motion Pictures Ltd. & Anr. Versus Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. & Ors.

[v]Notice Of Motion (L) No. 2147 of 2016 In Suit (L) NO. 751 of 2016 order dated 22.07.2016 in the matter of Eros International Media Ltd. and Another Versus Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited & Others.

[vi] id

[vii] Udta Punjab: Of Courts, Cuts, Copyrights and Conflicted Counsels; - by Prof. Shamnad Basheer, LiveLaw.in; http://bit.ly/29kRyrj ; Udta Punjab: An IP Controversy [Part I], by Vasundhara Majithia, Spicy IP.com; http://bit.ly/28NwcVJ

[ix]Notice of Motion (L) No. 2315 of 2016 in suit (L) No. 751 of 2016 And Notice Of Motion 2147 of 2016 by order dated 09.08.2016.

[x] ibid

[xii] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California William Matthew Byrne, Jr., Senior District Judge, Presiding Argued and Submitted December 5, 2000—Pasadena, California Filed July 24, 2002 available at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1260576.html

* Image taken from https://www.hackread.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/how-apple-and-facebook-helped-us-in-arrest-of-kickass-torrents-owner.jpg

Click to show 13 comments
at your own risk
(alt+c)
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.

Latest comments