8 global entertainment companies move the Delhi HC against three alleged “rogue cyberlocker websites” for unauthorisedly hosting copyrighted content

Eight leading global entertainment companies – including Netflix, Warner Bros and Paramount Pictures – have moved the Delhi High Court seeking a permanent injunction against three ‘rogue cyberlocker websites’ for unauthorisedly hosting their copyrighted content. According to the plaintiffs, these rogue cyberlocker websites provide an infrastructure specifically designed to incentivise hosting, uploading, storing, sharing, streaming, and downloading of their copyrighted material unauthorisedly. The Plaintiffs had pursued the defendants for taking down the infringing contents by notifying them of the listings from time to time, however, despite promises to comply, it was found that the mechanism itself, which was embedded as part of the infrastructure of defendants’ websites, permitted generation of a new link the moment the takedown took place which could be disseminated by the uploader and therefore, potentially could be disseminated through parallel websites. Thus, as per counsel for plaintiffs, the takedown itself was elusive and of no effect, since the system immediately permitted generation of a new link. He thereby submits that it became a “hydra-headed monster” which made it difficult to police through only takedown measures.

Justice Anish Dayal directed the defendants to take down all features which allow regeneration of links and re-uploading of infringing content post takedown inter alia the following features – removal of the “generate link” and “disable download link (protected option)” tabs.

The matter is next listed on April 08, 2024.

Read full order here.

Obscenity case against TVF for the series ‘College Romance’ quashed by the Supreme Court.

In a significant development for India’s digital content landscape, the Supreme Court overturned a Delhi High Court verdict that upheld criminal proceedings against The Viral Fever’s (TVF’s) popular web series College Romance over the use of swear words and profanity. The case centered around allegations of “indecent content” within the third season of the Series.

The Delhi High Court in March 2023, had sided the prosecution holding TVF, the show’s director Simranjeet Singh and actor Apoorva Arora responsible for purportedly creating content that is considered vulgar, obscene and profane. This judgment had ignited debates on artistic freedom, societal norms, and the limitations of content regulation in the digital era.

A bench of Justices A.S. Bopanna and P.S. Narasimha set aside the FIR and the HC’s decision, noting that incorrect standards were applied by the court and no offence could be made out under the IT Act.

While clarifying that the standard for determining obscenity could not be that of an adolescent’s or child’s mind, the Court hinted towards the High Court which ‘incorrectly used the standard of “impressionable minds”. For the web series not being classified as restricted to those above the age of 18 years, as pointed out by the High Court, the Court commented that “While such anxiety is not misplaced, the availability of content that contains profanities and swear words cannot be regulated by criminalizing it as obscene.” It further hinted at the lack of offence made out under Section 67A as per High Court’s remarks.

Read more about it here.

Supreme Court sets aside order directing Bloomberg to take down defamatory article on Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited

The Supreme Court on Friday set aside an order passed by a trial court directing Bloomberg to take down an article, alleging that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had found a US$241mn (million) accounting irregularity at Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. Last week, upholding the trial court’s order, the Delhi High Court (HC) directed Bloomberg to remove the article about Zee Entertainment.

In an order, the SC bench headed by chief justice DY Chandrachud says, “The HC ought to have, in our view, primarily assessed if three-fold test of grant of injunction was made out after evaluation of facts. The error by the trial judge is repeated by the HC as well. The three-fold test cannot be recorded as a mantra without an appreciation of facts. We have no option but to set aside this order of the trial court and the high court. Since proceedings are before the trial court, Zee Entertainment can renew their plea for an injunction and the trial court may decide the plea according to the observations made herein.

Read more about it here.

MEITY notifies fact check unit under the PIB as authorised unit to check fake news, misinformation related to Central Government, set aside by the Supreme Court

In a Gazette notification dated March 20, 2024 (See here) , the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology notified the PIB FCU under the provisions of sub-clause (v) of sub rule (1) of Rule 3 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) as amended on April 6, 2023

The FCU has been operational since November 2019 and is mandated to counter misinformation on government policies, initiatives, and schemes either suo motu or under a reference via complaints. The FCU actively monitors, detects, and counters disinformation campaigns, ensuring that false information about the government is promptly exposed and corrected.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench on March 21 stayed the Centre’s March 20 notification operationalising PIB’s fact check unit (FCU), which is intended to stop fake posts and distortions of actions of Union govt. The SC said the matter involves serious constitutional issues related to Article 19 freedoms. Read more here.

Kunal Kamra moves SC seeking stay on fact check units by Centre under New IT Rules 2023

As per reports, Kunal Kamra’s plea mentions that the  establishment of the FCU coerces intermediaries to execute a regime of self-interested censorship of online content relating to the business of the central government and intermediaries, as profit making, commercial enterprises, would naturally choose to avoid civil or criminal liability for third-party content, and would invariably remove it.

They also highlighted that there is already a robust, existing mechanism to address the concern of fake news about the Union government in the form of the Press Information Bureau.

Last week, the Bombay High Court refused to grant interim relief against notification of a fact check unit, citing failure to establish that such a notification would cause grave and irreparable loss. This led petitioners to approach the Supreme Court.

Read more about it here.

SC Transfers Pleas Against IT Rules 2021 To Delhi HC

The Supreme Court on March 22 transferred to the Delhi High Court a batch of pleas pending before different high courts across the country challenging the Rules, 2021. A bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Prashant Kumar Mishra noted that several petitions were pending on the issue before different high courts including Karnataka, Madras, Calcutta, Kerala and Bombay high courts and said “In order to avoid contradictory judgments, the Union of India would wish to have all matters consolidated for analogous hearing. Since a large number of these cases are pending consideration before the Delhi High Court, we deem it appropriate to transfer the matters in various HCs to the Delhi HC

Read more about it here.

AI Voice clone startup faces legal action from the UK music industry

British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a trade body for UK music is coordinating legal steps, on behalf of its record company members, against an AI music cover versions service called Jammable (until recently called ‘Voicify’). There are more than 3,000 ‘deepfake’ music voice models on Jammable. The BPI argues that the service is infringing the copyright in sound recordings on a significant scale.

Read more about it here.

Patanjali Issues Apology to Supreme Court For Misleading Advertisements

Managing director of Patanjali, Acharya Balkrishna, issued an “unqualified apology” to the Supreme Court on for breaching its earlier assurance that it would not make misleading advertisements or claims. Patanjali said last year it wouldn’t publish misleading ads or make casual statements against medicinal systems, but the Supreme Court said it has failed to honor its assurance. The apology comes a day after it summoned Balkrishna and Ramdev.

Read more about it here.

Bombay HC Grants Relief To Pidilite In ‘Rangeela’ Holi Colours Copyright Case

The Bombay High Court has recently issued an injunction against two companies, Craft Vatika and Bansal Handicrafts, prohibiting them from infringing upon the copyrighted packaging and label associated with Pidilite Industries’ product ‘Rangeela’ Holi colours. Counsel appearing for the two companies made a statement that they would not directly make its allegedly infringing products available in the  market. They also assured that they would ask their sellers and distributors to immediately take down or desist from offering the products for sale. Justice Bharati Dangre further ordered the company to file details of the stock manufactured and sold by them in the last one year.

Read more about it here.

MIB issues advisory urging celebrities and influencers to abstain from promoting offshore online betting and gambling on social media.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued a strict advisory dated March 21, 2024 to all endorsers and influencers on social media including online advertisement intermediaries to refrain from promoting or advertising, including surrogate advertisements, of offshore online betting and gambling platforms. Additionally, social media intermediaries are urged to conduct sensitisation efforts among users to discourage the dissemination of such content.

The advisory emphasizes on the significant financial and socio-economic implications of online gambling, particularly among the youth demographic.

“It is hereby cautioned that failure to comply with the above may lead to proceedings under the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, 2019, removal/disabling of social media posts/accounts where such promotional content/advertisements/endorsements are being published, and penal action under the applicable statutes,” the advisory said.

Read more here.

Google slapped with 271 M fine by French regulators over AI training

France’s competition authority fined Google, its parent company Alphabet, and two subsidiaries a total of €250 million ($271 million) for breaching a previous agreement on using copyrighted content for training its Bard AI service, now known as Gemini. According to the authority, Google agreed to provide news agencies and publishers with a “transparent assessment” of their remuneration for usage rights, and to make certain that the negotiations didn’t impinge on “other economic relations” between Google and the publishers. However, the authority has alleged that Google has failed to maintain those commitments in several ways.

Read more about it here.

Indian Apps V Google Play Store: CCI denies interim relief to Indian app companies against Google’s new Play Store billing policy

Competition Commission of India (CCI) on March 20, 2024 dismissed four petitions of Indian app companies filed against Google’s new Play Store billing policy to levy an 11 to 26% charge on in-app payments.

However, CCI made clear that, “nothing stated in this order shall be as tantamount to a final expression of opinion on the merits of the case, and the Director General will conduct the investigation without being swayed in any manner whatsoever by the observations made herein.” “The informants have not been able to project any higher level of prima facie case warranting a positive direction as sought for by the informants at the at the interim stage,” CCI said in its order.

Tennessee becomes first US state with law protecting musicians from AI

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law on Thursday that aimed to protect artists including musicians from unauthorized use by artificial intelligence. The legislation is called the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act and will replace the state’s statutory right of publicity law with regulations against AI deep fakes and give local artists explicit protection over their voices for the first time.

Read more about it here.

US sues Apple for illegal monopoly over Iphones

The US government filed a sprawling antitrust case against Apple, alleging that the tech giant has illegally prevented competition by restricting access to its software and hardware. ‘Apple has maintained its power not because of its superiority, but because of its unlawful exclusionary behavior,’ said US attorney general Merrick Garland.

Read more about it here.