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DoodStream's 'owners' struggle to comply with Hollywood's injunction * TorrentFreak

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Notorious Markets report is one of the most effective tools available to rights holders to combat foreign-orchestrated copyright infringement.

When Hollywood first brought cyberlocker platform DoodStream up for review in 2022, its framework was not dissimilar to the one that shaped the perception of Megaupload. At its core was a cash incentive system that rewards DoodStream users based on the popularity of “their” videos.

Based on largely the same allegations of copyright infringement, a Paris court ordered French ISPs to block DoodStream starting in 2023. Late last year, Karyn Temple, MPA's global general counsel, personally briefed a House Judiciary Committee on the threat posed by DoodStream. This was not to be taken lightly.

Major Hollywood Studios, Netflix, Amazon and Apple, Sue DoodStream

In March this year, Hollywood film and television giants filed a copyright infringement suit against India-based company DoodStream in the Delhi High Court.

A total of six defendants covered the domains doodstream.com, doodstream.co, dood.stream and their underlying websites (Defendants 1-3), as well as a server (Defendant 4) used by Defendants 1 through 3 to allegedly facilitate the storage and distribution of infringing content. Defendants 5 and 6, none of whom were identified in the initial public court filings, were described as the site's operators.

Our March report has more details, but in short, DoodStream's cease and desist letters were ineffective. When content was removed, there was a system in place that automatically generated a new working link. For this and many other reasons, the plaintiffs demanded that DoodStream be shut down entirely or that new management be installed to take over the site.

DoodStream somehow makes a counter offer

After promising to remove the plaintiffs' content “completely and completely” and disable the system that renders takedowns pointless, a March 18 Delhi High Court order required DoodStream to remove all the plaintiffs' content within 24 hours. The site's operators were also required to hire an accountant to disclose all revenue generated by the site, although they were given more time to do so.

In the US and Europe, the short window of time available to comply with the injunction's requirements would mean that the site would have to be taken offline until the content is removed, or face a conviction for contempt of court.

In documents filed with the High Court on April 5, the plaintiffs reported non-compliance with the injunction. Not only was the infringing content still available on DoodStream, but the link generation system was also still active, in breach of the court's orders.

In documents filed with the High Court on April 7, counsel for the defendants stated that, contrary to the plaintiffs' allegations, DoodStream had complied with the terms of the injunction and “put certain technical aspects relating to the plaintiffs' allegations on record.”

Resolve disagreements

In view of the apparent contradictory statements, the court held that the “technical aspects” raised by the respondents needed to be understood. The task was assigned to the Deputy Magistrate, who was to be assisted by the Director and Deputy Director of the IT Department of the Delhi High Court, so that they could jointly sort out the technical details.

“This may require the plaintiffs and defendants [infringing] Content on [DoodStream] to the Joint Registrar (and the IT team),” the court said.

Although the idea of ​​instructing the parties to search for pirated copies in court seems somewhat unconventional, the court noted that the plaintiffs' technical advisor would be present to assist them.

In defense, the technical representatives would be the actual operators of DoodStream, defendants No. 5 and No. 6 in the lawsuit. Or, as the court called them, the site's “owners,” who were first named in public court documents. To some in the Indian tech startup scene, the names may sound familiar.

Doodstream Prop

In a decision dated April 22, the court informed about the current status of events.

IT department, legal counsel for plaintiff and defendant, report back

In their report to the court, “the plaintiff’s lawyers presented a detailed list of approximately 1,512 links that are still active despite the instructions of March 18, 2024, thus illegally sharing the plaintiff’s copyrighted content.”

The court notes that the list was emailed to the head of the IT department, where a selection of “random links” were tested to see if they were active on DoodStream. The court randomly tested six links and found that all but one were still active.

The defendants’ lawyer stated that these links were “omitted because more than 5 lakhs links [500,000] were initially divided [by the plaintiffs for deletion] and you [DoodStream] try their best to stick to the list.”

The court found that the defendants must block all links included in future lists, with the next update occurring on April 25 – just 72 hours later.

Finally some progress?

The April 25 court order contained positive news. Both parties agreed that all links that were required to be blocked had indeed been blocked. More positive news was reported regarding the link generator tool.

The takedown occurred in early April, although there was disagreement over the date. The defendants said the takedown could not have occurred earlier “due to logistical and technical reasons,” including “the cache storage and the Cloudflare CDN.”

There was less positive news regarding the court-ordered revenue accounting, which has still not been carried out. Meanwhile, the studios proposed some additional changes to curb violations.

Publish users’ names next to their uploads

The studios' lawyer said that DoodStream should change its code to publish users' names alongside their uploads. DoodStream said the suggestion would be discussed with the technical team, as if the code was somehow the biggest obstacle to implementing such a feature. Still, the studios had plenty of ideas where that came from.

Since download links, embedded links and embedded codes make it easier to share content with others, disabling these features would “put a stop to the sharing of infringing content.” Or perhaps a suggestion from the court's IT department would be better received: DoodStream should start imitating YouTube.

“They explained that 'YouTube' normally checks all uploaded content in the background, using both manual and technical interventions. Once copyrighted content is identified, the uploader is informed that he must either remove the content immediately or his account will be banned forever,” the court added.

According to the court, this would be the “perfect model that could be replicated under the circumstances”. Whether these circumstances included a feasibility study was not made clear, but that would probably not have mattered. Even if the 24-hour deadline was ignored, other conditions also seemed negotiable.

Lawsuit or business meeting? And who is responsible?

In its May 1 order, the court provides an update on DoodStream's responses to previous requests from the world's most powerful film and television studios.

Unfortunately, after reviewing the proposal to remove the “Download link, Embed link, Embed code” options, DoodStream concluded that removal was not necessary.

“Advisor for the [defendants] stated that they would not remove these features because, to their understanding, none of them encourage re-uploading. The plaintiff's attorney counters this argument by saying that these features lead to the distribution of their copyrighted content.

“Be that as it may,” the court added, “the [defendants] have expressed their inability to remove these features.”

The proposal to put the names of DoodStream users next to their uploads, “so that the violator or violators can be identified and prosecuted by the studios,” also met with little approval.

“The lawyer for the [defendants] states that such information cannot be provided due to a lack of infrastructure and technical feasibility,” the court said in its judgment.

And just like that, no consensus on anything

In its May 13 decision, the court examines DoodStream's general compliance with the March 18 injunction, weighing the submissions of the studios and the defendants.

The plaintiffs describe a climate of “severe non-compliance” alongside DoodStream’s refusal to remove all shareable links. The lawyer said that “about 10 lakh” [~1 million] The site was notified that the links should be removed, but “the architecture of the site deliberately supports the retention of the infringing content on Doodstream despite the removal.”

The website also pays violators money when the videos they upload are viewed by others.

Counsel for the defendants argues that even before the lawsuit, DoodStream has always been compliant and has removed or deleted content in response to complaints. Part of the problem since the lawsuit began is that plaintiffs always sent the takedown notices in PDF format, which meant they could not be complied with.

While it was confirmed that steps had been taken to implement an upload filter to protect “various” copyright holders, there was a more fundamental problem. The venue for the lawsuit against DoodStream should not have been India, the lawyer explained.

“While the defendants are based in Coimbatore, the hosting platform is located in the United States of America and therefore there is no reason for the plaintiff to even approach this court.”

The proposed selection of download links was not planned.

“The removal of the 'Download Link', 'Embed Link' and 'Embed Code' tabs by the defendants would result in the website being completely empty and useless,” DoodStream added.

The High Court's brutal assessment of compliance and what it could mean for the future of DoodStream will appear here tomorrow