This Just In: Bombay High Court Restrains YouTube from Broadcasting IIFW “MasterClass” Episodes  

By Harish S. Adwant, III BSL LLB, ILS Law College, Pune

The Bombay High Court granted an ad-interim ex-parte injunction to the Indian Independent Filmmakers Worldwide Association (IIFWA) (“Plaintiff”) against YouTube LLC and Google Inc. (“Defendants”) The Court said that the Plaintiff has made out a prima facie case of copyright infringement against the Defendants.

The Plaintiff is a body of independent film-makers which aimed to “promote, support and nurture independent cinema by film-makers of Indian origin anywhere in the world.” In light of this objective, IIFWA conceptualized a non-profit project named “IIFW Masterclass”, a series of video recordings, which featured celebrated film-makers, who would share their knowledge and experiences of filmmaking with budding filmmakers, critics and movie enthusiasts. The first season of IIFW Masterclass kicked off in 2010, which was recorded in the form of a cinematographic film and televised on National Geographic Channel.

Wide acclamation of the first season led the Plaintiff to record the second season of the programme.  Subsequently the second season was recorded in 2015. An agreement granted exclusive broadcasting rights to several advertisers, directors, producers and TV channels and prohibited filming/broadcasting by any other person/entity. Within a week, the Plaintiff discovered that ‘infringing recordings’ of the first interview of the second season (which was launched at “FICCI FRAMES” 2015) were uploaded and broadcasted all over YouTube titled “Sudhir Mishra & Rajkumar Hirani | Curtain Raiser of FICCI Frame 2015”. Owing to this, IIFWA filed a suit against Youtube LLC and its owner, Google Inc. as the Defendants.

On 21st April, Justice S.C. Gupte restrained YouTube from “exhibiting, communicating, distributing, storing, caching, transmitting in any manner” the infringing cinematographic film of second season of “IIFW Masterclass” till further orders. Moreover, it also directed YouTube to “expeditiously remove and/or block any and all references to materials and content which fall within the Plaintiff’s (IIFWA) copyrights, and any stored, cached or embedded copies of links which will enable copyright infringement of the plaintiffs content.” The ad-interim injunction order can be accessed here.

The matter is to be heard on 10th June, 2015. Jurisperitus Mumbai represented the plaintiff in the instant case whereas the Defendants remained absent.


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