Google and its video sharing site YouTube have been taken to court by an Indian music label. Super Cassettes Industries filed a suit after the display on YouTube of content on which the Indian company says it holds copyright.
Super Cassettes Industries is seeking a permanent injunction and damages on the dissemination and display on YouTube of the content and on Monday obtained an interim restraint order in the High Court in Delhi. That means Google, which was not represented at the proceedings, has to remove the YouTube content until the final order is decided.
"We had communicated several times to YouTube and to Google both in India and the US to remove the content that infringes our copyrights," said Amit Sibal, lawyer for Super Cassettes in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Google was not immediately available for comment.
Google has in the past objected to provisions in India's Information Technology Act 2000 which make intermediaries such as ISPs (Internet service providers), website hosting companies, search engines, email services, and social networks, liable for their users' content. Section 79 of the Act holds network service providers liable unless they can prove that the offense or contravention was committed without their knowledge or that they had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offense or contravention.
"We don't hold the telephone company liable when two callers use the phone lines to plan a crime," Rishi Jaitly, a policy analyst at Google India said in a Google blog in October. "For the same reasons, it's a fundamental principle of the Internet that you don't blame the neutral intermediaries for the actions of their customers," Jaitly added.
Sibal however objects to the description of YouTube as an intermediary. YouTube is not an ISP, but owns and controls a website, participates in the infringement, and derives revenue based on the number of clicks from advertisers on the site, he said.
The next hearing of the case is scheduled for February next year.
Google has been criticised in India for controversial content on its social -networking site, Orkut. In June this year the Shiv Sena, a powerful political party in Mumbai, demanded that the federal government ban Orkut, after it was found that someone had posted derogatory remarks against the party's chief Bal Thackeray on Orkut.
In October last year, Yugant R Marlapalle, a lawyer from Aurangabad, filed a petition before the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court against Orkut and other social-networking sites, after he found on Orkut a community called "We Hate India" which had a picture of the burning of the Indian flag, and anti-India propaganda.