Telegram is one of the most popular messaging platforms due to the fact that it has more than half a billion active users.
More than twenty percent of the application’s user base is located in India, making it one of the most popular countries in which it is used. This comprises a relatively small group of pirates that tend to stick around for quite some time.
Telegram does not tolerate infringements of copyright and takes prompt action in most cases in response to such violations. This includes the elimination of channels that are only devoted to illegal downloading. That is not enough for some owners of copyright due to the fact that new “pirate” channels typically appear shortly thereafter.
It Is Not Enough to Just Remove Channels
The owners of the content want to know who controls these channels so that they may properly safeguard their intellectual property. Because of this, they are now able to pursue legal action against the actual pirates and demand that they cease stealing content. A claim of intellectual property infringement was lodged using this line of reasoning in the year 2020.
Ms. Neetu Singh and KD Campus were the ones who initially brought this case forward. The first person is responsible for writing a variety of books, courses, and lectures, while the second person is in charge of operating coaching centers.
Both rightsholders have been very vocal with Telegram about their concerns regarding channels that disseminate illegal content. The vast majority of these were removed by Telegram, but the service refused to provide the identities of the infringers. Therefore, the holders of the rights submitted an intervention request to the court.
It Is Necessary for Telegram to Identify Pirates
This week, the legal battle came to a head in the Delhi High Court, when the court issued an order ordering Telegram to identify many users who had violated copyright laws. This includes providing the other party with your email address, IP address, and telephone number.
In spite of significant pushback, the order was implemented. One of the primary lines of defense that Telegram put forward was that the user data is stored in Singapore, which, according to the local privacy law, makes it illegal to decrypt personal information.
This line of reasoning is not supported by the court due to the fact that the continued infringement is associated with Indian works and would most likely be traced back to Indian users. And even if the data is kept in some other location, it is still possible to access it from India.
“Courts in India would be perfectly justified in directing Telegram, which runs its massive operations in India to adhere to Indian law and adhere to orders passed by Indian Courts for disclosure of relevant information relating to infringers,” the Court writes. “Telegram would be perfectly justified in adhering to Indian law and adhering to orders passed by Indian Courts for disclosure of relevant information relating to infringers.”
“Infringers cannot be allowed to seek refuge under Telegram’s standards simply on the pretext that its physical server is in Singapore,” Telegram said in a statement. “This is not acceptable.”
The High Court of Singapore adds that disclosing the personal information would not be a violation of Singapore’s privacy law either, pointing out that there is an exemption to the rule in cases when personal details are required for the investigation or proceedings of a legal matter.
Protection of Intermediaries Without Infringing on Freedom of Expression
Telegram also brought up the Indian constitution, which safeguards individuals’ rights to freedom of speech and expression, as well as their right to maintain their personal privacy. This defense, like the previous one, was unsuccessful.
The Court comes to the conclusion that “the right to freedom of speech or the right to life including the right to privacy cannot be invoked by any person or entity, much alone an infringer, in order to escape the consequences of illegal activities.”
Telegram maintained that it is not compelled to divulge the details of its users because the service just acts as a middleman. This was the company’s final point in its defense.
Once more, the Court does not agree. In this scenario, it is not sufficient to merely take infringing channels offline because violators can simply start new ones as if nothing had ever happened.
The court says that “just banning or closing down channels upon information being submitted to Telegram is an insufficient remedy,” adding that these channels are “obviously hydra-headed” because to the ease with which pirates can begin again.