Copyright Infringement : Sony Pictures Seek Injunction Against Unauthorized Use

Copyright is an essentially important exclusive right giving only the company authority to make use of to whom such right is granted and any unauthorized use of the same would amount to infringement of the copyright. Copyright ensures protection for the work done by a person, restricting any other person to take credits for the work and ensures through such protection that the person who owns such exclusive right to be able to gain economically from their own work[1]. Due to such significance and notable consequence of copyright and its infringement, the Government of India duly ensured for a Copyright Act passed in 1957 and in force from 1958. Section 51 of the Copyright Act defines the situation in which the copyright is infringed and they are:

When a person does an act of which he did not have the exclusive right;

or makes profit by communication to public of such work which has been copyrighted unless he had reasonable grounds that he was not aware of such copyright;

or sells/distributes/exhibits in India or imports into India[2].

Section 55 of the said Act, provides for the civil remedies in case of any copyright infringement.

[Image Sources : Shutterstock]

In the case of Sony Pictures Network India Pvt v Sportsala TV and Ors[3], the Network giant had an exclusive license from the England and Wales Board Limited (ECB) to broadcast the India-England International Cricket 2022. It was found that the defendant, Sportsala TV and multiple other pirated websites which use redirection mechanisms, had been broadcasting the same without any right and in an unauthorized manner[4]. The plaintiff filed a suit before the Delhi High Court seeking permanent injunction as a remedy provided in Section 55 (1) of the Copyright Act, against the defendants to stop broadcasting the cricket series from their Sony Ten channels. It sought for injunction under Order 39 of the Code of Civil Procedure[5]. The relief sought in this civil suit were:

  1. Court grants a permanent injunction to refrain such private websites from broadcasting the series.
  2. To also grant injunction against such other websites which use redirect mechanisms or website mirroring or using such alphanumeric websites, private servers for illegal and unauthorized streaming.
  3. To grant a John Doe order or what is known as ‘Ashok Kumar’ order against such websites who have been streaming the same but cannot be identified.
  4. An order allowing the plaintiff to inform all search engines to delete such links/websites and URLs/Apps that infringe their copyright.
  5. Order for appointment of 2 local commissioners for such unidentified violators.
  6. Pass order for damages to plaintiff and order defendant to surrender all such apparatus that is used for such unauthorized broadcasting[6].

The main contention of the plaintiff in this case was due to such unauthorized transmission which actually provides free viewing to the public leads to irreparable loss financially and in terms of their Intellectual property right and harm in reputation. The Court saw a prima facie case since there was a clear agreement for grant of license and no such further sub-license was done by Sony Pictures to these private websites[7].

Recently, Justice Sanjeev Narula of the Delhi High Court passed an order for interim injunction under Order 39 Rule 2 of CPC against the defendants and issued such interim directions. The Court provided for all reliefs mentioned above and also passed a direction allowing the plaintiff to add any party to the suit if they are discovered in the later stage[8] as per Order 1 Rule 10 of the CPC. The Court also appointed a Local commissioner who was required to determine such unauthorized streaming of the Cricket series, search and inspect as well as seizure of equipment in respect of the copyright infringement, seizing the books of accounts and allowing him to take any sample recording or photographs of such illegal transmission[9].

The courts give due importance towards protection of copyrights to ensure that the rightful owner or licensee is not suffering any harm or loss of injury. This case shows its strategic importance by also allowing the plaintiff to add parties at a later stage and issuing an ‘Ashok Kumar’ order[10] to make sure that even the unnamed and unidentified violators are covered by means of this temporary injunction[11].

Author: Rusha Nimavat, 3rd Year BBA LLB (hons) Student at Kirit P. Mehta Law school, NMIMS University, Mumbai, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to chhavi@khuranaandkhurana.com or at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.

REFERENCES

  1. Why are copyright laws important: Understanding it’s importance iptse,
  2. Sony Pictures Network India Pvt Ltd v Sportsala Tv and Ors, (2022)
  3. Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, O. XXXIX R. 2
  4. Delhi High Court Restrains Broadcasting of India-England series on “rogue websites” and unauthorised DTH operators SCC Online, https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/07/02/delhi-high-court-restrains-infringement-of-broadcasting-rights-of-sony-ten-network-interim-directions-issued/
  5. Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, O. I R. 10

[1] Why are copyright laws important: Understanding it’s importance iptse, https://iptse.com/why-are-copyright-laws-important/ (last visited Aug 29, 2022)

[2] The Copyright Act, 1957

[3] Sony Pictures Network India Pvt Ltd v Sportsala Tv and Ors, (2022)

[4] ibid

[5] Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, O. XXXIX R. 2

[6] Delhi High Court Restrains Broadcasting of India-England series on “rogue websites” and unauthorised DTH operators SCC Online, https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/07/02/delhi-high-court-restrains-infringement-of-broadcasting-rights-of-sony-ten-network-interim-directions-issued/ 

[7] ibid

[8] Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, O. I R. 10

[10] Supra 7

[11] Supra 5

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