HC asks WhatsApp to forthwith suspend accounts unauthorisedly sharing, selling Salman's Radhe film

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New Delhi, May 24 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has directed WhatsApp to forthwith suspend the accounts of those who are unauthorisedly sharing, storing, circulating and selling pirated copies of Salman Khan starrer film ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’.

The high court in an interim order also restrained various private parties from unauthorisedly storing, reproducing, communicating, disseminating, circulating, copying, selling, offering for sale or making available copies of the film, through WhatsApp or any other means or modes, that may infringe the plaintiff’s copyright in the film.

It said Zee entertainment Enterprises, which has the exclusive licence to distribute or release the movie, has established a prima facie case in its favour and the balance of convenience also lies in favour of the plaintiff and an irreparable loss would be caused to it, in case an ex-parte interim injunction is not granted.

“The Defendant no. 9 (WhatsApp), is directed to forthwith suspend the WhatsApp accounts of defendant nos. 4 and 8 (private parties) to ensure that the said defendants cease the infringement of the plaintiff’s copyright on WhatsApp.

“It is further directed that in the event the plaintiff brings to the notice of defendant No. 9 (WhatsApp), that any other WhatsApp account is being used for the purpose of selling infringing copies of the film, the defendant No. 9 shall as expeditiously as possible, and not later than 24 hours from the receipt of the request from the Plaintiff, suspend such accounts,” said Justice Sanjeev Narula in an order passed on May 20.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises approached the court after it came to know that several infringing/ illegal copies of the film, as well as various video clips, were being created, stored unlawfully reproduced, transmitted, circulated, shared, sold etc for illegal and unauthorised viewing, download and storage to public at large by individuals on several social media platforms including WhatsApp.

The plaintiff said it was the exclusive licensee and holder of various exploitation rights in the film and has the exclusive right to distribute or exhibit or release the film or make it available to the public through theatrical, internet, digital and online streaming platforms or OTT platforms and Transactional Video On Demand (TVOD).

Referring to the WhatsApp's Terms of Service, it said the rules provided that the platform users could not use the services for violation of intellectual property rights, and therefore, the accounts breaching the terms should be suspended, and ultimately terminated.

The court also noted that the printouts of the WhatsApp communications pertaining to the private individuals revealed that the account holders are selling the content of the film and the messages showed that on receipt of payment, the pirated copy has been sold.

“These messages clearly suggest that these particular accounts in question, are ex facie being used in complete violation of the terms of the policy of defendant no. 9 and are infringing the copyright of the plaintiff,” it held.

The court was informed that on May 14, the plaintiff has filed a complaint before the Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit against known and unknown persons and an FIR has also been registered at the Cyber Cell on May 17.

The plaintiff said it has approached WhatsApp LLC through various channels and shared the details of the phone numbers who were sharing infringing copies of the film on its platform without permission, however, no response has been received. PTI SKV SKV RKS RKS

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