HC Directs Telegram To Disclose Channels Infringing Copyright Law; Telegram Responds


Telegram, the direct messaging platform, has been directed by the Delhi High court to provide details of its channels that were sharing content against copyright law. Reportedly, the High Court has directed the service to provide the details of its channel operators, including IP addresses and mobile numbers.

HC Directs Telegram To Disclose Channels Infringing Copyright Law

This directive comes in the wake of sharing copyright-protected learning materials via a list of Telegram channels. Telegram is directed to disclose the information in a sealed cover within a couple of weeks, a report suggests.

HC's Order To Telegram

The Delhi High Court has said that the defense of free speech and the right to privacy cannot be used by any entity, including an infringer to escape the consequences of illegal actions. Telegram relied on the laws of privacy protection under Article 21 and Article 19 (1)(a) of the Indian Constitution respectively, that protect the right to freedom of speech and expression.

As per PTI, Justice Prathiba M Singh noted that the messaging platform's reliance on the right to privacy and right to freedom of speech was completely inapposite in the circumstances and facts of the case. The judge said unless the channel operators shared infringing content using masked identities, the plaintiffs would be rendered remediless for recovering damages.

HC Directs Telegram To Disclose Channels Infringing Copyright Law

In response to the HC's order, Telegram said it was not obliged to disclose the details of users as it was an intermediary under the IT Act. To this, the HC opined that mere taking down or disabling the channels was insufficient as these channels were hydra-headed and were appearing one after the other due to the ease of creating channels. As a platform, Telegram is directed to take effective steps needed to safeguard intellectual property rights.

Furthermore, Justice Singh stated that as Telegram's server is in Singapore, the copyright owners cannot be left completely without any remedy against infringers as per copyright law.


HC's Justification For Privacy

The Supreme Court states that there is a law to justify the disclosure of information and there is a necessity for the same given the nature of encroachment of the right. The high court emphasized that it would have a chilling impact on the initiatives taken by educators in sharing learning materials in the digital era if the protection of copyright does not evolve with time.

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