Injunction protects copyright owner

How we prevented ISP's providing a database of 3rd party copyright infringers

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Injunction protects copyright owner

We obtained a High Court injunction protecting the copyright owner, a firm of London film creators. This injunction prevented two internet service providers (ISPs) communicating, broadcasting, or publishing our client’s copyright work. Now our client:

  • Has an injunction pending a full trial for damages: this means the works have to be removed;
  • Protects the unique value in its works;
  • Can produce videos and deter potential infringers: this injunction is now common knowledge.

Injunction protects copyright owner: The facts

Our client creates short films lasting up to 10 minutes. When viewed concurrently, these short films form a series.  Our clients market their films to commuters.

The two ISPs provided access to films without consent. Although ISPs do not host the content, they provide a searchable database of films. The ISPs’ database redirects users to the films, that are hosted by third parties. In effect, the ISPs act as intermediaries for users.

When our client discovered the ISPs’ format, we alleged copyright infringement by:

  • Communication of copyright works to the public;
  • Authorising the public to obtain the content.

We asked the High Court for:

  • A mandatory injunction;
  • Our client’s works to be permanently removed  from the ISPs’ platforms.

How we obtained the injunction that protects our clients’ copyright

We argued four points:

Users would not have been able to view the films without the ISP’s help. So the ISP’s had to be considered as communicating works to the public, as they made the content readily available.

Even if the ISPs did not communicate works, they accepted works uploaded by users, therefore inducing a user’s infringement.

The ISPs had actual knowledge of the infringement. They monitored each user’s downloads, and collected users’ information for their marketing databases.

To adequately protect our client’s works, the mandatory injunction had to be granted.

High Court grants injunction

The High Court granted the mandatory injunction. The court stated the ISPs:

  • Were platforms breeding infringement. Without them, users would not access the copyright works on the third parties’ sites.
  • Were user friendly. ISPs enabled users to find what they wanted on the ISPs’ databases without recourse to the third parties.
  • Had actual knowledge of their infringements. The ISPs had been put on notice in 2014, notwithstanding the data collection of data.

The High Court said:

  • The combined effect of the above factors made it clear that the ISPs were communicating copyright works to the public;
  • The ISPs didn’t hold the content on their sites;  However,
  • The ISP’s provided a database of readily available content;
  • Awarded our client costs in pursuing the mandatory injunction.

Conclusion

This case shows copyright holders should ensure their works are not communicated to the public without consent.

The High Court did not comment on an ISP who provides a hyperlink to a third party site. However, our client’s favourable decision perhaps suggests this might be an infringement.

We often act for copyright works holders on infringement claims. First we consider the scope for a mandatory or prohibitory injunction.