Monday, January 16, 2012

US Companies, India, Conflict Of Laws And Criminal Liabilities

Companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc and social media websites like Facebook, etc are currently facing criminal trail in India for not removing objectionable contents from their respective websites.

According to cyber law of India and laws of other jurisdiction, the safe harbour protection of Internet intermediaries is lost the moment they are notified of the offending act or omission. However, till they are notified regarding offending contents, they are not liable for violations committed by their users.

However, US companies are not following Indian laws and they are insisting upon following of US laws even if Indian laws are clearly violated. For instance, websites located in US are openly violating the copyright of Indian websites and when they are contacted in this regard to remove the copyright violating posts they ask Indians to use US laws like Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) 1998.

Surprisingly, even if these US companies are informed in writing and with relevant information like weblinks of copyright violating posts and copyright subsisting posts, they still insist upon following of DMCA procedure. What is more frustrating is that a majority of these US websites and companies are themselves not following the requirements of DMCA and hence are not entitled to its safe harbour protection.

Even in the case of cyber laws, US companies are applying US standards and are not following Indian standards. This is a classic situation that is occurring due to conflict of laws. This is also the reason why an international cyber law treaty is required to being harmonious application of cyber law principles.

US need to change its policy regarding enforcement of foreign IP rights and cyber laws. By not respecting the laws of other countries, US websites and companies are imposing laws like SOPA and PIPA upon themselves. Further, companies like Google must pay special attention as they are deriving revenue out of online advertisements placed upon such copyright violating posts. This makes them not only a beneficiary but also liable for damages in appropriate cases.

Companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook are facing prosecution under the Indian cyber law. Further, if we analyse the cyber law trends in India of 2012 and cyber security trends of India 2012, such prosecutions are going to increase further in future. Insisting upon following of US laws to take action against offenders and websites located in US would not serve any purpose if branches or subsidiaries of such companies are located in India. Further, if such websites and companies fail to comply with Indian laws, Indian government can block such foreign websites in India.

The present litigation before Indian courts is just a beginning and US companies and websites must start respecting Indian laws. If cyber crimes are committed with great disregard to Indian laws and the copyright and other IP rights are openly violated by such companies and websites, their prosecution in India is inevitable. Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) strongly recommend that such foreign companies and websites must ensure cyber due diligence in India to escape various civil, criminal and financial obligations.