Filmmaker Suneel Darshan wins copyright case against YouTube & Google India
Indian filmmaker Suneel Darshan who has produced a dozen Bollywood films, including ‘Andaaz’, ‘Barsaat’ and ‘Dosti’, won a copyright infringement case against Google India and its YouTube video-streaming platform, after an eight-year-long court battle.
Darshan, the proprietor of film production company Shree Krishna International had filed a suit for permanent injunction against Google India and YouTube, and their US parent, in 2011, in the District Court of Gurgaon for infringement of his copyright. The court awarded damages of Rs.50,000 to Darshan and restrained Google and YouTube from infringing on his works.
His lawyers claimed that the defendants had infringed on his copyright in respect for sound recording, cinematograph films and audio-visual songs, without any license or authorization, from him. They argued that the ‘unauthorized downloader’ and the defendants were sharing the ad revenue generated from the ‘unauthorized exploitation’ of the copyrighted works, causing huge financial losses to the petitioner.
Darshan said that “It was a long battle, but the order made me felt vindicated. I would calculate and file for total damages soon.” Google India didn’t respond until press time Thursday to an email seeking comment.
Whereas, Google and YouTube claimed they only provided a platform for communication and sharing of information without charge. They also said they had no prior knowledge that the uploaded contents were infringing on the Copyright Act.
In the court, Darshan’s lawyers argued that neither him, nor his company had given any authorization to the defendants for storing, telecasting and/or communicating the works to the public.
Google’s lawyers said their clients were mere service providers or intermediaries within the meaning of the IT Act, 2000. They also stated that they had no control over the content uploaded by users and hence could not be held liable for the alleged infringement of the copyright.