31 May 2021

Delhi High Court restrains illegal distribution of the film Radhe

The Plaintiff is a reputed production house and film studio and is involved in the business of production, acquisition, co-production, promotion, marketing and distribution of various cinematographic films and audio-visual content in various languages in multiple formats worldwide which also includes theatrical, television syndication, digital and internet connected platforms. The Plaintiff is the owner of and operates over 48 channels across 11 different languages and is considered as India's No. 1 Entertainment Network and also owns and operates a digital streaming service called 'Zee 5'. Through this Platform, the plaintiff provides a service called ZeePlex, which is a premium movie -on- demand service where users can rent or gain access to premium movies at a minimal price.


The Plaintiff on 13th May, 2021 released the movie 'RADHE’ on their digital streaming platform 'Zee 5' for public viewing on pay-per view basis. The Plaintiff got to know that several pirated copies of the film and various video clips have been made and being unlawfully circulated to public at large by individuals on several social media platforms, including the platform 'WhatsApp'. The Plaintiff also filed a complaint on 14th May 2021 before the Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit under the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957, the complaint was made against known and unknown persons including 2 of the defendants. On 15th May 2021, another complaint was filed before the Additional Commissioner of Police, Central Region, Cyber Cell against 3 of the defendants and several other unknown persons. The Plaintiff also stated that they reached out to WhatsApp LLC (one of the defendant), and shared the phone numbers of those who were sharing infringing copies of the film on WhatsApp without permission, but there was no response from WhatsApp LLC.


Counsel for the Plaintiff stated that few of the defendants were unauthorisedly viewing, downloading and storing the film on WhatsApp platform on a pan-India basis and therefore they were infringing the Plaintiff's copyright under Section 51(a)(i) of the Act. Screenshots of the WhatsApp messages, which reveal the same were shared with the court. Further, plantiff stated that WhatsApp's terms of service according to which WhatsApp users are not allowed to use the platform for violation of intellectual property rights and since the terms of service were violated the defendants should be banned from using the platform.


The Plaintiff established a prima facie case in its favour where the balance of convenience also lied in favour of the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff will suffer a huge loss if an ex-parte interim injunction is not granted.


The Delhi High Court Bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula restrained Defendant from unauthorising broadcast of the film and directing the accounts of other unknown Defendants to be suspended with immediate effect.