Madras HC grants John Doe order for the Tamil film ‘Seema Raja’ [READ ORDER]

The Madras High Court vide an order dated 10th September, 2018, restrained 37 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other persons/ entities from unauthorized exploitation of the Tamil film ‘Seema Raja’ which is scheduled to be released on 13th September, 2018. [Read order here]

A civil suit was moved by 24AM Studios, the producer of the film against the illegal piracy of the said film. The plaintiff further asserted that it had acquired exclusively all Exploitation and Distribution rights including Television Rights, Communication, Digital and Home video for the said film and invested a substantial sum in making the film, to be released in more than 1000 screens worldwide.

The producer moved the court to restrain the 37 ISPs who did not have the required license from infringing the copyright and to seek a direction to block all the websites/ web pages including some 3651 websites which have no reporting and take down mechanism in place and which the Plaintiff claimed are infringing the copyright of the plaintiff.

The court was satisfied that the trinity test for granting interim injunction were satisfied i.e. prima facie case being made out by the Plaintiff, balance of convenience being in Plaintiff’s favour and irreparable damage if interim order is not granted as it would lead to piracy of the film which would be incapable of compensation. Therefore, an order of interim injunction was granted. The Court also ruled that if blocking of websites/web pages becomes necessary, respondents ISPs shall do so.

 John Doe suits are mostly quia timet actions filed as a representative action, under Order I, Rule 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Few ISP’s and cable operators are impleaded as formal defendants to represent the group of internet service providers and cable operators in general. Complete identity of interest amongst these defendants and the general body of persons whom they represent and/or are said to represent is shown.  John Doe orders enable the order to be served upon persons whose identity is unknown to the plaintiff at the time the action was commenced, but whose activity falls within the scope of the action.

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