DELHI HIGH COURT FINDS PEWDIEPIE’S SONGS RACIST AND DEROGATORY; DIRECTS IMMEDIATE REMOVAL FROM YOUTUBE [READ ORDER]

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The ongoing battle for being the most viewed Youtube Channel between T-Series and Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (a.k.a PewDiePie) have been making headlines. When T Series recently took over as the most viewed Youtube Channel, in a bid to outscore T-Series and regain its top position, PewDiePie uploaded two music videos viz. ‘T-Series Diss Track/ Bitch Lasagna’ and ‘Congratulations’ (“Impugned Songs”).

However, these Impugned Songs did not go down well with T-Series. Super Cassettes Pvt. Limited moved the Delhi High Court against PewDiePie seeking injunction from uploading, communicating and making available the Impugned Songs.

The Delhi High Court vide order dated April 8, 2019 held in favour of T-Series and granted an ex-parte injunction directing Youtube to remove and disable access to the Impugned Songs and also ensure that the said videos do not get uploaded ever again on the Youtube platform. [Read order here]

T-Series contended that in a bid to outscore T Series and regain is top position, PewDiePie has been uploading defamatory and disparaging music videos which target the plaintiff and Indians as a community and contains racist, inflammatory and hateful remarks against them as well as T-Series In a bid to ridicule and disparage the plaintiff and its trademarks. T Series further pleaded that the lyrics used in the Impugned Songs uploaded by PewDiePie are on the face of it defamatory, disparaging, insulting and offensive and that these videos are accessible throughout the world to a global audience of more than a billion who access internet and Youtube every day.

The Court observed that a perusal of the snapshots of the videos shows that there are repeated comments made which are abusive, vulgar and also racist in nature and that it would be in the interest of justice that these videos are taken off by Youtube. The Court further took note of a communication dated October 7, 2018 where PewDiePie had apologized for posting the first video stating that it was all in good fun and had assured that he is not planning any more videos on the same line. However, despite such assurance PewDiePie recently on March 31, 2019 uploaded a new video on the same lines as the first video.

The Impugned Songs on the face of it seem to be racist and derogatory to India. In his video ‘Congratulations’ PewDiePie” accused T-series of setting up its brand by selling pirated songs. He ridiculed India for its poverty and caste system in the video. “India got YouTube figured out…How about next you figure how to fix the caste system… May be all those ads will solve your crippling poverty,” PewDiePie said in his video.

However, as per the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v/s Union of India, an intermediary such as Youtube is required to remove such objectionable content only once it receives actual knowledge i.e. by an adjudicatory authority issuing an order compelling intermediaries to remove the content. Intermediaries would only be liable if they fail to expeditiously remove or disable access to content after receiving actual knowledge through a court order or a Government notification about the same.

The Draft Information Technology Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018 have proposed that the Intermediary should deploy technology based automated tools or appropriate mechanisms, with appropriate controls, for proactively identifying and removing or disabling public access to unlawful information or content. However, the counter comments to the said Draft Rules have criticized this provision as being contrary to the law laid down in Shreya Singhal judgement by the Supreme Court. It will have to be seen whether this proposed amendment to the Intermediary Guidelines is adopted putting further obligations on intermediaries to have appropriate mechanisms against unlawful content.

Meanwhile, there is another online petition going on against PewDiePie accusing him of promoting white supremacy on the video streaming website and calling for a blanket ban on his Youtube Channel. As per reports, the petition has gathered over 68000 signatures.

Image source: here