The Delhi High Court has ordered blocking of 73 “rogue websites” which indulged in “rank piracy”, saying mere blocking of the uniform resource locator (URL) was not sufficient as it could be easily changed.
A bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and A K Pathak also said that to “block the website as a whole is justified” as these were illegally streaming “pirated” videos.
“The respondent (Star India Pvt Ltd) has placed enough material in the suit to show that the rogue websites are indulging in rank piracy and, thus prima-facie the stringent measure to block the website as a whole is justified because blocking a URL may not suffice due to the ease with which a URL can be changed, and as noted above, the number of URLs of the rogue websites range between 2 to 2026 and cumulatively would be approximately 20,000.
“It would be a gargantuan task for the respondent to keep on identifying each offending URL and especially keeping in view that as and when the respondent identifies the URL and it is blocked by the ISP (Internet Service Provider), the rogue website, within seconds can change the URL thereby frustrating the very act of blocking the URL,” it said on July 29.
The court’s order came on a review plea by Star India, a leading sports broadcaster which has an exclusive licence of media rights in various sporting events, seeking blocking of these 73 websites for allegedly uploading pirated content.
In 2014, a single bench of the high court had directed ISPs to block the 73 websites and its specific URLs.
Aggrieved with the order, the Department of Electronics and Information technology (DEIT) had filed a plea against the blanket order on the ground that blocking websites would violate freedom of trade on Internet.
The court, however, in March this year had directed that only the specified URLs be blocked. Star India had filed a review plea against the March order.
Allowing the review, the bench observed that the argument regarding freedom of trade on Internet “would have no content where the offending activity by the rogue website is to carrying on hardly any lawful business and in its entirety or to a large extent, piracy is being resorted to”.
“On the issue of whether the appellant could be directed to ensure compliance with the blocking order directed against the service providers, it is suffice to state that it is the duty of the government, its instrumentalities and agencies to assist in the enforcement of orders passed by the courts,” the bench added.