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Pikashow App Blocked on Allegations of Copyright Infringement

In the case of Star India Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. V. Pikashow Application and Ors., the Delhi High Court ordered the blocking of the mobile streaming application Pikashow in the case of copyright infringement alleged by one of India’s leading entertainment companies.

In the present case, Star India Pvt. Ltd. and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (“Plaintiffs”) had filed a suit seeking a permanent injunction and reliefs for the rendition of accounts, damages etc., from the mobile streaming application. The Plaintiffs contested that the app Pikashow was illegally allowing piracy of well-known content on OTT platforms by permitting streamers to access copyrighted content freely on the Internet.

Aggrieved by the blatant piracy, the plaint stated that the app could be downloaded only from Telegram and not from established app stores like the Google Play Store or iTunes. This was proof of its circumvention tactics to provide copyrighted content free of charge. It was also stated that the app had already received over 500 complaints and cease-and-desist letters regarding the app and its domain. The Plaintiff also contended that despite the court issuing blocking orders, newer URLs that are privacy protected and do not provide details about the registrants were created to disseminate infringing content.

The Court held that the Plaintiff made out a prima facie case depicting the rogue nature of the apps that beckoned the Court to grant an interim injunction to prevent the streaming of infringing content. Further, the Court held that the balance of convenience was in the Plaintiff’s favour owing to the loss they would suffer if the Defendants were not injuncted.

The Court granted an interim injunction restraining the Pikshow app and its owners/operators from making it available through any domain names or websites mentioned in the plaint. The app was also restrained from being broadcast, accessed, or downloaded.

The Court asked GitHub India to disclose details regarding the name of individuals and entities, their email addresses, phone numbers and bank account details within one week. The Court also directed the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue blocking orders against the Pikashow app along with its source domains.

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Advisory Issued to Prohibit Advertisements of Online Betting Platforms

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory to publishers of news and current affairs content on digital media and publishers of online curated content (OTT) platforms to refrain from publishing advertisements for online betting platforms.

The Ministry had earlier issued a similar advisory on 13.06.2022. However, given that the issue of gambling continues to plague Indian audiences, especially the youth, the Ministry further issued this advisory on October 3, 2022.

The Government has been trying to deal with the problems of gambling and addiction issues afflicting most parts of the country. Given that betting/gambling is illegal in some of the states in India, advertising such activities on digital media is strictly prohibited under the Code of Ethics of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, which restrains any publisher from transmitting or publishing any content that is prohibited under any law.

Further Section 9 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, also prohibits the advertisement of any goods, products or services that are prohibited from being advertised under any law, rules or regulations in force.

The advisory also prohibits offshore betting platforms from surrogate advertising on digital media by posing as news websites. The notice further states that online betting platforms have been advertising themselves as professional sports blogs and news websites using strikingly similar logos. They also provide an indicative list of online betting platforms using news as surrogate advertising.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, this type of surrogate advertisement is strictly prohibited under Section 6 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements 2022.