Over 60 pirate websites worldwide face the threat of domain seizures from anti-piracy authorities.
You can find the full list of pirate domains that are threatened towards the end of this article.
In recent years, a new and potent threat has emerged in the digital realm, targeting pirate sites with unprecedented vigor.
A groundbreaking site-blocking order from the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in India epitomizes this shift.
The scope of these orders is so broad that virtually any site distributing the studios’ content, including future releases, is at risk of perpetual domain suspensions, regardless of their global location.
India’s Growing Role in Digital Rights Enforcement
The interest of major rights holders in India has surged, notably over the past few years.
India’s high piracy rates partially explain this focus, but the escalating reliance on India-based anti-piracy entities presents a more complex picture.
Factors such as cost-effectiveness or jurisdictional advantages might play a role. Indian courts, in particular, are emerging as key players, wielding some of the most potent anti-piracy tools seen in recent times.
The Evolution of Legal Strategies in India
In a marked shift from the past, the Delhi High Court’s injunction in May, which mandated ISPs to block unregistered domain names, illustrated the ease of obtaining expansive orders from Indian courts. This was a stark departure from previous practices.
April 2019 marked a turning point when the Delhi High Court issued India’s first dynamic injunction. This order was meticulously designed to counteract pirate site tactics like domain hopping and mirror sites.
It reflected a balance between the rights of studios, ISPs, and the public, indicating a nuanced approach to online piracy.
Intensifying Site-Blocking Efforts
Courts in India, having updated their strategies, swiftly escalated their efforts.
Preemptive blocks were placed on over 1,100 websites to protect an unreleased movie, and existing injunctions were expanded to address evolving threats.
By September 2022, the Delhi High Court mandated U.S. domain registrars to suspend specific domain names to prevent the distribution of an unreleased film.
This trend continued with the blocking of over 13,400 sites for another movie.
While similar actions could theoretically occur in U.S. courts, Indian jurisdictions have proven to be more predictable and open to innovative site-blocking injunctions.
The Impact of Dynamic+ Injunctions
A notable case involves a U.S. domain registrar complying with a dynamic+ injunction from the Delhi High Court.
This injunction, aimed at protecting Hollywood studios and Netflix’s content in India, encompassed over 70 domains, with orders for immediate suspension already issued.
The Global Impact of Local Decisions
One of the most significant domains affected is Aniwave.to, an anime site with substantial traffic from various countries, including the U.S. and the U.K.
The suspension of its domain name highlights the global repercussions of such actions, despite minimal direct traffic from India.
The MPA’s Legal Maneuvers
The MPA’s legal actions in the Delhi High Court aimed at curbing the spread of pirated content illustrate the extensive reach of these injunctions.
These orders target a wide range of devices and platforms, reflecting the studios’ determination to protect their intellectual property.
Court’s Ruling: The Dynamic+ Injunction
The court’s dynamic+ injunction seeks to prevent the distribution and public access to copyrighted content, including future productions.
The injunction’s broad scope encompasses all related domains and their variations, highlighting the extensive reach of these legal measures.
The court’s directive to ISPs and domain registrars extends beyond mere blocking to include suspension and personal information disclosure.
This raises concerns about the compliance of registrars globally and the potential impact on their operations in India.
The Real-World Impact
Recent suspensions of domains like fztvseries.mobi and mobiletvshows.net by Namecheap, based on an Indian court order, exemplify the real-world effects of these legal actions.
The lack of prior communication and the swift enforcement by Namecheap underscore the potency of these injunctions.
Affected sites have migrated to new domains, attempting to recover their traffic.
However, they remain vulnerable to future legal actions, highlighting the ongoing battle between rights holders and pirate sites.
The Future of Global Enforcement Strategies
These developments raise critical questions about the role of Indian courts as a preferred venue for international copyright enforcement. The broad scope and assertive nature of these injunctions suggest a new era in the fight against online piracy.
This dynamic approach signifies a significant shift in the landscape of digital rights management and has far-reaching implications for internet governance and content distribution globally.
List of Pirate Domains Threatened
Below are the domains impacted by the initial order:
- hdmp4mania I .net
For further details, the full order issued by the High Court of Delhi is available here (PDF). You can also refer to the report from TorrentFreak.
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