News

Pikashow App Blocked on Allegations of Copyright Infringement

In the case of Star India Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. V. Pikashow Application and Ors., the Delhi High Court ordered the blocking of the mobile streaming application Pikashow in the case of copyright infringement alleged by one of India’s leading entertainment companies.

In the present case, Star India Pvt. Ltd. and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (“Plaintiffs”) had filed a suit seeking a permanent injunction and reliefs for the rendition of accounts, damages etc., from the mobile streaming application. The Plaintiffs contested that the app Pikashow was illegally allowing piracy of well-known content on OTT platforms by permitting streamers to access copyrighted content freely on the Internet.

Aggrieved by the blatant piracy, the plaint stated that the app could be downloaded only from Telegram and not from established app stores like the Google Play Store or iTunes. This was proof of its circumvention tactics to provide copyrighted content free of charge. It was also stated that the app had already received over 500 complaints and cease-and-desist letters regarding the app and its domain. The Plaintiff also contended that despite the court issuing blocking orders, newer URLs that are privacy protected and do not provide details about the registrants were created to disseminate infringing content.

The Court held that the Plaintiff made out a prima facie case depicting the rogue nature of the apps that beckoned the Court to grant an interim injunction to prevent the streaming of infringing content. Further, the Court held that the balance of convenience was in the Plaintiff’s favour owing to the loss they would suffer if the Defendants were not injuncted.

The Court granted an interim injunction restraining the Pikshow app and its owners/operators from making it available through any domain names or websites mentioned in the plaint. The app was also restrained from being broadcast, accessed, or downloaded.

The Court asked GitHub India to disclose details regarding the name of individuals and entities, their email addresses, phone numbers and bank account details within one week. The Court also directed the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue blocking orders against the Pikashow app along with its source domains.

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RBI Launches First Pilot of Digital Rupee

The Reserve Bank of India commenced the first pilot programme of Digital Rupee (e₹) from November 1, 2022.  At present, the RBI has identified nine banks, including State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, YES Bank, IDFC First Bank and HSBC for participation in the pilot.

As per the concept note published by the RBI, Central Bank Digital Currency is defined as a legal tender which is issued by RBI. The regulator has proposed two versions of the Digital Rupee- general purpose or retail (CBDC-R) and wholesale (CBDC-W).

The CBDC-R can be used by everyone, including private sector, businesses and non-financial consumers and is an electronic version of cash meant for retail transactions. On the other hand, CBDC-W can be used only by select financial institutions, has restricted access and has been specifically designed for settlement of interbank settlements.

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Amendments to IT Rules Notified

On 28th October 2022, the Central Government notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022. The Rules came into force from the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

As per the new guidelines, “The Central Government shall, by notification, establish one or more Grievance Appellate Committees within three months from the date of commencement of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022”.

The objective of setting up such multiple Grievance Appellate Committees is to provide a platform to the users of social media applications, including twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc an alternate means to settle disputes, apart from approaching the courts.

Further, the Rules envisage a shorter timeline of 24 hours to take necessary action on sensitive content while directing the Intermediaries to conduct due diligence in accordance with Article 14- Right to equality, Article 19 -Right to freedom, and Article 21- Right to life of the Constitution. It also mandates them to take reasonable measures to ensure accessibility of its services to its users while practicing due diligence, privacy, and transparency.  Further, the Rules allow the privacy policy to be published in other regional languages. 

News

BCCI Announces Equal Pay for Men and Women Cricketers

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced parity in the match fee for contracted BCCI men’s and women’s cricketers. The BCCI implemented the pay equity policy to tackle discrimination in the cricketing world between players.

Keeping in mind the performance and the growing interest in Indian women’s cricket, the announcement was made. The current match fees for BCCI women cricketers will now be Rs. 15 lakhs for a test match and Rs. 6 lakhs for one-day innings (ODI), which is the same as the match fee received by their male counterparts. It is a landmark decision taken by the BCCI for the growth and development of cricket in India.

News

FIFA and AIFF Launch Football for Schools Project

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) has announced the Football for School Project launch. The Government of India further supports this collaboration. The project aims to broaden the game across the country to reach over 700 million children worldwide.

The programme will also focus on bolstering involvement in football within tribal communities across the globe. The project aims to target 50% female participation as well to encourage overall growth in the development of children through the language of football.

News

BCCI Announces Changes to Key Positions in its Board Composition

On October 18, 2022, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced key changes to the various posts in the BCCI. Ex-president Sourav Ganguly has been replaced by the former Indian all-rounder Roger Binny. Jay Shah remains the Secretary, and Rajeev Shukla will also remain the board’s vice president.

Ashish Shelar and Devajit Saikia have been appointed as treasurer and joint Secretary, respectively. Arun Dhumal and Avishek Dalmiya have been appointed as the two representatives in the Indian Premier League Governing Council and lastly, MKJ Majumdar has been appointed as the General Body’s representative in the BCCI’s Apex Council.

News

Esports to Debut as Official Medal Sport at AIMAG 2025

The Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) announced its decision to include Esports as an official medal sport at Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 2025 (AIMAG). This announcement was made at the 41st Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly.

So far, Esports has only been a demonstration game in AIMAG 2017 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and is now being elevated to a full-fledged medal sport. The 7th AIMAG 2025 will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, before being held in Chonburi, Thailand, in 2023.

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Madras High Court Takes Suo Moto Cognisance of Violent Online Games

The Madras High Court has taken suo moto cognisance of the issue of the accessibility of violent online games to young children. The matter caught the Court’s attention after a reported missing girl was found to be addicted to playing online mobile games, namely “Free Fire.”

The Court was concerned about the “chat” feature of the game, which could be used by strangers to approach players with inappropriate language or as potential sexual predators or data thieves. The Court was worried that since the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India cannot regulate this feature, hackers may steal personal information to blackmail young children.

Considering the mental and physical well-being of the school and college-going students, the Court urged the state governments to take cognisance of the matter for the larger public interest. The registrar was directed to register a public interest writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to implead the necessary parties.

Further, it gave directions to regulate the usage of Virtual Private Networks. These YouTube channels publish unethical practices of using pirated applications and implement awareness programmes in all schools and colleges regarding the impact of violent online games.

News

Advisory Issued to Prohibit Advertisements of Online Betting Platforms

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory to publishers of news and current affairs content on digital media and publishers of online curated content (OTT) platforms to refrain from publishing advertisements for online betting platforms.

The Ministry had earlier issued a similar advisory on 13.06.2022. However, given that the issue of gambling continues to plague Indian audiences, especially the youth, the Ministry further issued this advisory on October 3, 2022.

The Government has been trying to deal with the problems of gambling and addiction issues afflicting most parts of the country. Given that betting/gambling is illegal in some of the states in India, advertising such activities on digital media is strictly prohibited under the Code of Ethics of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, which restrains any publisher from transmitting or publishing any content that is prohibited under any law.

Further Section 9 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, also prohibits the advertisement of any goods, products or services that are prohibited from being advertised under any law, rules or regulations in force.

The advisory also prohibits offshore betting platforms from surrogate advertising on digital media by posing as news websites. The notice further states that online betting platforms have been advertising themselves as professional sports blogs and news websites using strikingly similar logos. They also provide an indicative list of online betting platforms using news as surrogate advertising.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, this type of surrogate advertisement is strictly prohibited under Section 6 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements 2022.

 

 

News

Delhi High Court Directs Telegram App to Disclose User Information

“If the protection of copyright is not evolved as per the changing times, it would have a chilling effect on the progressive initiatives taken by educators in sharing their materials and ensuring accessibility.”

In a recent copyright infringement suit, the Delhi High Court has directed Telegram to disclose the details of channels and users in a sealed cover, including their mobile numbers, e-mail IDs and IP addresses, which have been identified to be disseminating content in violation of the copyright law.

The plaintiffs alleged that the study material designed and curated by them for various competitive examinations was being circulated through multiple channels on Telegram without their due consent and authorization. Further, the Plaintiffs’ lecture videos were uploaded on these channels on a daily basis and were made available to the users at discounted rates. Books written by the plaintiffs were also being shared on such channels in PDF formats.

The Delhi High Court held that circulation of the study material on Telegram Channels would be “communication to the public” as per the provisions of Section2(ff) of the Copyright Act, 1957 (“Act”). Hence, such use shall constitute an infringement of the Plaintiffs’ work as defined under Section 2(m) of the Act, even if the same is enabled through electronic means.

It was the Court’s understanding that Telegram, by allowing channel operators to disseminate such material over various channels in “private mode,” was enabling copyright infringement and would thereby constitute “plates” (duplicating equipment) within Section 2(t) of the Act.

Citing the Information Technology Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics, 2021 (IT Guidelines), the Court observed that Telegram owed a duty of care towards protecting the IP rights of the users. Telegram defended itself by claiming that its servers were duly established in Singapore and that the country’s law prohibited such disclosure. To this, the Court rebutted by observing that “merely because Telegram chooses to locate its server in Singapore, the same cannot result in the Plaintiffs’ – who are copyright owners of course materials – being left completely remediless against the actual infringers, especially to claim damages and avail of other legal remedies in accordance with the law. If such an argument is accepted,  IP violations would go completely unchecked in the current world where most dissemination happens through online messaging services and platforms.”

The Court further added, “the provisions of the IT Act and the Rules made therein have to be construed harmoniously with the rights and remedies provided to the copyright owners under the Copyright Act. Indian Courts are competent to decide issues relating to infringement of copyright, and the mere fact that Telegram is operating a messaging service in India which chooses not to locate its servers in India cannot divest the Indian Courts from dealing with copyright disputes or divest copyright owners from availing their remedies in Indian Courts. In the present age of cloud computing and diminishing national boundaries in data storage, conventional concepts of territoriality cannot be strictly applied. The dynamic evolution of law is essential to ensure appropriate remedies in case of violation of copyright and other IP laws.”

Telegram also cited concerns about privacy violations among its users as Telegram is an “intermediary” under the IT Act. The Court, on the other hand, stated that “the origin and source of the infringing material have to be traced and such devices or persons involved in the infringement ought to face the consequences in accordance with the law, including being held liable for damages. That would not be possible if the source of such infringing copies, i.e., the details of the infringing channels, are not disclosed,”.

Impact

This is not the first time that Telegram has faced flak due to its privacy policy. Earlier in March this year, Brazil’s Supreme Court directed a national shutdown of Telegram on account of facilitating the spread of political misinformation and for non-cooperation with the authorities. However, this is the first time the messaging App has come under fire for copyright infringement and has been directed by the Court to disclose user information. Telegram had managed to amass a considerable user base due to its claims to prioritize privacy; however, as rightly pointed out by the Delhi High Court, if the dissemination of information through newer technologies and platforms remains unaccountable, IP violations will go unchecked. A balance between advancement and sustaining an enabling IPR culture is crucial for the country’s industrial, scientific and socio-economic growth.