The verdict is significant due to its departure from the usual practice of blocking only URLs and not the entire website.
A bench of justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice AK Pathak said, “the stringent measure to block the website as a whole is justified because blocking a URL may not suffice due to the ease with which a URL can be changed”.
Star India Pvt Ltd had approached the HC in 2014 with an suit for injunction against 73 websites claiming that they were infringing its exclusive right to broadcast the ensuing Indo-Australia 2014-15 Cricket Series.
Subsequently, a single bench of the HC had ordered blocking the entire 73 websites.
Later, the Department of Electronics and Information technology (DEIT) had to the HC that blocking the entire websites would violate freedom of trade on the Internet. Accepting the plea, the HC had in March this year said that only the specified URLs of the pirated content would be blocked.
Star India filed a review plea against the March order.
Taking note of Star India’s plea, the HC said that steps to change a URL could be as easy as changing the password of one’s e-mail ID.
“This would mean that if the URL of a rogue website is blocked, the operator can simply log into the website source code and change the URL akin to a person changing one’s password,” the bench said adding that, “if a domain name itself is blocked, to continue with the infringing activity becomes a cumbersome, time consuming and money spending exercise”.
“A new domain name has to be created and purchased apart from purchase of a fresh hosting server space. The entire exercise of creating a website has to be undertaken,” it said
Besides, the court said, “It would be a gargantuan task for the respondent (government) to keep on identifying each offending URL and especially keeping in view that as and when the respondent identifies the URL and it is blocked by the ISP (internet service providers), the rogue website, within seconds can change the URL thereby frustrating the very act of blocking the URL”