Injunction protects copyright owner

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

Our client creates short films lasting up to 10 minutes. When viewed concurrently, these short films form a series.  Our client markets their films to commuters. The two ISPs provided access to the 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.

Lead up to the injunction

When our client discovered the format of the ISPs, we alleged copyright infringement by communication of copyrighted works to the public and authorising the public to obtain the content.

Therefore we asked the High Court for a mandatory injunction and to have our client’s works be permanently removed from the platforms of the ISPs.

Obtaining the injunction to protect our clients’ copyright

We argued the following points:

Users would not have been able to view the films without the help of the ISPs. So the ISPs 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. They were also user friendly. ISPs enabled users to find what they wanted on the ISPs’ databases without recourse to the third parties. Finally they had actual knowledge of their infringements. The ISPs had been put on notice in 2014, notwithstanding the data collection of data.

High Court’s statements

“The combined effect of the above factors made it clear that the ISPs were communicating copyright works to the public. Whilst the ISPs didn’t hold the content on their sites, however, they provided a database of readily available content.”

The court therefore awarded our client costs in pursuing the mandatory injunction.

Result

Our client now has an injunction pending a full trial for damages. In the meantime, the ISPs have to remove their works. This protects the unique value in its works. It is also able to produce videos while deterring potential infringers, because this injunction is now common knowledge.

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.

  • The assistance provided to us was invaluable