Centre tells Delhi High Court it has competence to regulate online gaming; says it is necessary to protect children

The central government has submitted its response to the Delhi High Court in the case brought by the Social Organization for Creating Humanity (SOCH). The NGO had challenged the constitutional and legislative validity of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023, which aims to regulate online gaming.

In a robust defence of its legislative competence, the government cites the Constitution of India, asserting its authority under Entry 31 of List I (Union List) and Entry 97 (residual powers) to regulate matters of online gaming, which transcends state boundaries and falls within the realm of ‘Inter-State trade and commerce’.

The government’s response comes after SOCH contended that these rules exceeded the central government’s legislative competence and resulted in regulatory confusion. The case has raised questions about the division of powers between the central and state governments regarding online gaming regulation.

Labeling the plea as a proxy litigation, the government’s reply contends that SOCH lacks the necessary legal standing to challenge the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) emphasises that the rules were framed after comprehensive stakeholder consultations and that the MeitY had allowed for public commentary on the draft rules, a process in which SOCH did not participate.

The central government also contended that the NGO’s claim of outsourcing regulatory responsibilities, clarifying that the formation of self-regulatory bodies (SRBs) is part of a larger framework intended to bolster the safety and integrity of online gaming platforms.

Supreme Court tells Patanjali it will impose ₹1 crore costs per false claim in Patanjali Ayurved ads

The Supreme Court on November 21 reprimanded the Patanjali Ayurved for continuing to publish misleading claims and advertisements against modern systems of medicine.

While considering a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association against misleading advertisements, the bench comprising Justices Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Prashant Kumar Mishra issued a stern warning to the company.

Following this, the counsel for Patanjali Ayurved assured that they will not publish any such advertisements in the future, and would also ensure that casual statements are not made by it in the Press. The undertaking was recorded by the Court in its order.

Stating that it is examining the issue seriously, the bench told Additional Solicitor General of India KM Nataraj that the Union Government will have to find a viable solution to tackle the problem. The Government was asked to come up with suitable recommendations after consultations. The matter will be considered next on February 5, 2024.

Last year, while issuing notice on the IMA’s petition, the Court had pulled up Baba Ramdev for making statements against modern medicine systems like Allopathy.

The IMA contended that while every commercial entity has the right to promote its products, the unverified claims made by Patanjali are in direct violation of laws such as the Drugs & Other Magic Remedies Act, 1954, and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Additionally, the petition highlights previous instances where Swami Baba Ramdev, associated with Patanjali, made controversial statements, including calling allopathy a “stupid and bankrupt science” and making unfounded claims about the deaths of people due to allopathic medicines during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IMA further accused Patanjali of spreading false rumors about COVID-19 vaccines and contributing to vaccine hesitancy. Swami Ramdev’s alleged mockery and derision of citizens searching for oxygen cylinders during the second wave are also cited in the petition.

The petition emphasizes that despite the Ministry of AYUSH signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for monitoring misleading advertisements of AYUSH drugs, Patanjali has continued its alleged disregard for the law, violating the mandate with impunity.

Read order here.

Case against Fact Check Unit | Madras High Court decides to await Bombay High Court verdict

The Madras High Court on Monday decided to await the decision of the Bombay High Court in a case filed by satirist Kunal Kamra against the Centre’s decision to establish a Fact Check Unit (FCU), before taking a call in a case filed against a similar FCU established by the Tamil Nadu government.

Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy adjourned a public interest litigation petition filed against the State government’s FCU to December 6, after they were informed by the counsel for the parties that the Bombay High Court was expected to deliver its verdict on December 1.

The AIADMK’s IT wing office-bearer, R. Nirmal Kumar, had filed the PIL. In the PIL, it has been said that the government had made a statement in the Assembly only for setting up a social media cell in the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR).

However, it had gone about creating a FCU which, as per law, could be created only by the Centre under the Information Technology Act and the statutory rules framed thereunder. Even the Centre’s power had been questioned before the Supreme Court as well as the Bombay High Court, the Petitioner claimed.

When the Chief Justice sought to know what was wrong in establishing the FCU, which could help the police in identifying fake news, the senior counsel for the Petitioner said there was a threat of the FCU turning out to be an agency to impose censorship as far as criticism of government activities were concerned.

The world over, governments have stayed from constituting such FCUs. Fact checking of social media content was being done only by private entities affiliated to the International Fact Checking Network, he added.

He also told the court that the State government had created as many as 80 posts in the FCU and appointed a Mission Director too without publicising the recruitment process. However, senior counsel P.S. Raman and Additional Advocate-General J. Ravindran said only eight posts had been filled so far.

They also told the Division Bench that the FCU was necessitated in view of falsehoods such as the fake news on mass killing of Biharis in Tamil Nadu having been shared widely on social media recently. The judges decided to hear them further on December 6.

Centre planning new regulations, penalties for both creators and platforms to deal with deepfakes

The government is planning new regulations that may impose penalties on both creator and platform hosting deepfakes as it looks to clamp down on what is described as “a threat to democracy”.

Amid some celebrities reporting their faces being manipulated onto another video, new protection regulations being considered will look at measures including watermarking AI-generated content, deepfake detection, rules for data bias, privacy and guards against concentration.

India has over 80 crore internet users, which are projected to cross 120 crore in two years. Deepfake is a piece of technology that leverages AI to alter a person’s appearance, voice, or actions in a way that can be realistic and challenging to discern from authentic, unaltered content. Recent deepfakes have brought to the fore the urgency of a regulatory framework for AI in the new Digital India law.

Deepfakes shot into prominence after actor Rashmika Mandanna’s face was found to have been used in an embarrassing video earlier this month. Some other celebrities including Katrina Kaif and Kajol were also reported to be victims of deepfake.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also warned about the threat deepfakes pose.

On Saturday, Vaishnaw warned social media platforms would lose the immunity they enjoy under the ‘safe harbour’ clause in the Information and Technology Act if they fail to take measures against deepfakes. The clause states that an online platform cannot be held accountable for the content shared on it by users.

lSRA becomes ISAMRA on 10 year anniversary, includes musicians under its wings

The Indian Singers’ Rights Association (ISRA), a Non-profit making Company Limited by Guarantee under the Companies Act, 1956, was formed 10 years ago under the Chairmanship of Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar to fight for Singers’ rights and to collect their royalty and distribute the same to them.

ISRA, the Performer’s Right Society for Singers, turned Indian Singers and Musician Rights Association (ISAMRA), including musicians under its wings.

After establishing the Singers’ Right to Receive Royalty by procuring two Judgements from the Delhi High Court in 2016, and in October 2022, ISRA entered into a Historic Agreement with all Music Labels in the Country. This agreement marked the end of a long going litigation and procured Royalties for Singers.

The Minister for Commerce and Trade Piyush Goyal had announced this Historic Achievement in April 2023 of 50 Crore plus Royalty for the Indian singers, creating history.

The latest is that Musicians will now start getting Royalties from ISRA. To enable this, ISRA is rechristened ISAMRA (Indian Singers’ And Musicians’ Rights Association). ISAMRA represents Singers and Musicians of not only India but of the entire world.

ISAMRA is also affiliated with 18 foreign societies, signifying its global presence.

Spotify to end service in Uruguay due to bill requiring fair pay for artists

Spotify, the prominent music streaming platform, announced its intention to discontinue its services in Uruguay following the implementation of a new music copyright bill. This bill mandates “fair and equitable remuneration” for various creative contributors such as authors, composers, performers, directors, and screenwriters.

Article 284 broadens the scope of financial remuneration for performers by including social networks and the internet as platforms for song reproduction. Specifically, performers are entitled to remuneration if a song link is shared online.

Article 285 establishes the right to fair and equitable remuneration for agreements involving public communication and making phonograms and audiovisual recordings available to the public. This applies to authors, composers, performers, directors, and screenwriters.

Consequently, Spotify responded on November 20, stating its plans to phase out its service in Uruguay starting January 1, 2024, unless amendments are made to the 2023 law. The streaming giant intends to conclude its operations in the market by February 2024, as detailed in the report.

This development coincides with Spotify’s introduction of new payment policies for artists and labels. These policies aim to combat fraudulent streaming, establish a minimum track length for remuneration (including content like rain and sea sounds), and notably, eliminate royalties for songs with fewer than 1,000 streams, which typically earn around 2.39 pounds per year.

Delhi High Court to examine if street art is covered under copyright rules

The Delhi High Court is all set to examine the legal question about Street Art being covered as a subject under the Copyright Rules.

In February this year, insurance company Acko General Insurance published a hoarding as part of its advertising campaign, using a photograph of a mural titled ‘Humanity’ painted on a public building in Mumbai. The company also promoted the campaign on its social media handles.

Soon after, St+Art India Foundation, an organisation that works on art projects in public spaces, along with Mexican painter and muralist Paola Delfin Gaytan, who created ‘Humanity, issued a legal notice calling upon Acko to remove the hoarding and social media posts containing images of the mural.

Acko responded to the notice, claiming that using the mural in its advertisement did not amount to copyright infringement.

It said the artwork is “fair use” as it is “permanently situated in a public place to which the public has access”.

St+Art — credited with creating the largest mural in the country (on the MTNL building in Mumbai), the tallest mural of Mahatma Gandhi (on a building at the Delhi police headquarters), as well as conceiving projects such as the ‘Lodhi Public Art District’ in the national capital — along with Ms. Gaytan moved the High Court objecting to Acko’s decision.

St+Art and Ms. Gaytan argued that they are the holders of the copyright to the mural and that Acko’s purpose of sharing images of ‘Humanity’ was entirely commercial in nature.

The court, has noted that the hoarding, which has since been removed, was “clearly an advertisement”.

It has listed the case for hearing in February next year. The court has meanwhile directed Acko to take down all online content pertaining to the mural.