New Delhi: Two cases filed by Super Cassettes Industries Ltd, or SCIL, against YouTube Llc. and Yahoo Inc. in the Delhi high court could eventually set a significant precedent in determining the liability of websites in copyright infringement.
While the case involving YouTube is scheduled to come up on Thursday, the one against Yahoo is expected to be taken up in September.
SCIL, which owns the T-Series brand of music cassettes, ranks among the largest holders of copyrighted audio-visual, sound recording and musical work in India.
SCIL filed a suit against YouTube in November arguing that its copyrights, defined by the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, were being infringed every time a user uploaded its video content onto the Web.
YouTube argued that the videos were not uploaded directly by it but through its users and maintained it had taken sufficient measures to sensitize its users about copyright violations.
The court issued an interim order restraining YouTube from displaying audio-visual works in which SCIL owns exclusive and valid copyright.
In May, Yahoo was restrained by the Delhi high court after SCIL went on to file a similar and separate suit against it.
SCIL had sent a legal notice to Yahoo in February alleging illegal uploading, display and dissemination of videos of its copyrighted audio-visual works on the company’s website.
In response, Yahoo asked SCIL to provide a notification related to the infringement according to the norms laid down in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, which governs such infringements in the US.
SCIL refused, stating that the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, governs all issues of infringement of copyrights of its works.
Experts such as Saikrishna Rajagopal, partner at law firm Saikrishna and Associates, say, “litigation on niche issues, such as user-generated content, would give Indian courts a chance to develop new law and also examine how other jurisdictions have dealt with similar issues in the past.”
“The significance of the cases is that they question whether the websites can escape liability...also, the problem can cut at the core of the user’s ability to share content on the Internet,” says Neil Mason, expert on intellectual property law and managing partner at Mason and Associates, another legal firm.