The Judgement was passed by the single Judge of Delhi High Court, which deals with the illegal distribution of news on social media platforms and the liability of the administrators of the groups as well as the social media platforms themselves.

Brief Facts of the case

Plaintiff is the publisher of leading newspaper “Dainik Jagran” which circulates both physically and digitally across India and it is accessible for free at its website www.jagran.com and through paid subscription on E-Paper. The plaintiff is the registered Trademark owner of the Trademark Dainik Jagran and its variants thereof in several classes. 

Defendant No.1 i.e. Telegram FZ LLC is a Dubai based company which provides cloud based instant messaging and voice over IP service. Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant grant access and permission to the user of the application without disclosing the identity to such users, to create various channels which lead to the unauthorized circulation of the plaintiff’s e-paper in PDF form by several unidentified users i.e. Defendant No.2. 

Plaintiff submitted that users have access to the PDF format of its e-papers to its users and can download it. Further they submitted that users can download the previous edition of e-paper which are only available to the paid subscribers of the plaintiff. 

Further the plaintiff averred that since the Defendant No.1 through Defendant No.2 was indulging into reproducing, adopting, distributing, transmitting and disseminating the e-paper, which resulted in Trademark and Copyright infringement and financial loss of the Plaintiff. The plaintiff has sent cease and desist notice to the Defendants as a subsequent reminder, to which defendant No. 1 did not respond. Thus Plaintiff filed an infringement suit before court.

The plaintiff also placed reliance on section 79 r/w rule 3 sub-rule 4 of the Information Technology, Act, 2011 and contended that since the Defendant No. 1 had failed to exercise due diligence and despite constant reminders had failed to pull down th channels within 36 hours, the Defendant No. 1 cannot escape from its liability on the ground that it is an intermediary.

Judgement

The court passed its order on May 29, 2020, noted that Plaintiff has prima facie made the case in its favour and the balance of convenience also lies in the favour of plaintiff. Thus the court restrained defendants from using the channels and ordered them to block the same. Ad-interim injunction order was passed against defendants. Further the court also directed the defendant no. 1 to disclose the basic subscriber information or identity of the users or owners of the channels who have been impleaded as Defendant No. 2.

Conclusion

Curbing circulation of news is one of the pivot challenges for any government, entity or even media industry, dangerously circumventing one’s right to speech and expression. However, unauthorized circulation has also taken up as a form of digital piracy, threatening the inherent rights in such work. The present case can be seen as a commendable initiative taken up by the media house, Dainik Jagran to not only protect its pecuniary interest but also its intangible rights.

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