Saturday, January 28, 2012

India Must Invent Alternatives Of DMCA Complaint To Google And Others

Of late foreign companies and websites like Google, Facebook, etc are increasingly finding themselves in the legal net of India. In fact, a criminal case is already pending against Google, Facebook, etc for failure to exercise cyber law due diligence.

If websites like Google, Facebook, etc fail to exercise cyber law due diligence as per the requirements of Indian information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), the Internet intermediary protection is lost. All that is required to make Internet intermediaries like Google, Facebook, etc liable under Indian laws is to notify them about the objectionable contents.

The objectionable contents may take the form of defamatory contents, cyber stalking, pornography, religious riots incitement materials, intellectual property violating contents, etc. Indian cyber law allows 36 hours to such Internet intermediaries to remove the offending contents from their platforms.

While there is no problem in applying Indian laws to foreign companies and websites operating in India yet these companies and websites use the fa├žade of parent company by declaring themselves as mere subsidiaries of such parent companies. And when these parent companies are called to comply with Indian laws, they openly deny the same by saying that they are governed by foreign laws.

Naturally, Indians also cannot be forced to follow foreign laws like Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) 1998 and Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA).

As many of you may be aware that we are currently pursuing a copyright violation, trademark infringement and impersonation matter with Google Incorporation and Google India. Further, Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) have also provided their suggestions to US Copyright office regarding remedies for small copyright claims in United States so that interests of small copyright holders can be protected.

We have also filed a DMCA complaint to Google Incorporation (US) and a notice under IT Act 2000 to Google India on 22-01-2012 for copyright violation, trademark infringement and impersonation.

From the responses we received so far, it seems Google Incorporation is not willing to respect and comply with Indian laws and Indian legal requests even if DMCA procedure is duly complied with. We are still waiting for the response of Google India and would proceed further once the time limit of 36 hours is expired.

However, this has forced us to think in a very different direction. We believe that India must take urgent steps so that companies and websites like Google, Facebook, etc comply with legal demands as per Indian laws as well. We suggest the following in this regard:

(1) All subsidiary/Joint ventures companies in India, especially those dealing in information technology and online environment, must mandatorily establish a server in India. Otherwise, such companies and their websites should not be allowed to operate in India.

(2) A stringent liability for Indian subsidiaries dealing in information technology and online environment must be established by laws of India.

(3) More stringent online advertisement and e-commerce provisions must be formulated for Indian subsidiary companies and their websites.

Further, US government needs to change its policies towards foreign IP infringements and enforcements. Incidences like not following laws of other jurisdictions are responsible for enacting harsh laws like SOPA and PIPA. These incidences are also responsible for filing of civil and criminal complaints against companies like Google in India.

Indian government and Indian courts need to consider these aspects while deciding various cases against foreign websites and social media platforms. If Indian intellectual property and cyber laws are not respected, there is no other option but to choose a harsh stand of foreign websites blocking in India.

The matter would come for hearing before the Delhi High Court on 02-02-2012 and we hope the Delhi High Court would take judicial note of these facts also while adjudicating upon that matter.