Following a case filed by a music company (MTR), a lower court had ordered Twitter to temporarily ban the two handles of Congress on November 7, due to alleged copyright violations.
Karnataka High Court’s statement on Bharat Jodo Yatra Ban case
On Tuesday, the Karnataka High Court overturned a civil court’s order that Twitter temporarily bans the accounts of the Indian National Congress (INC) and its popular Bharat Jodo Yatra campaign. A copyright infringement case involving the usage of music from KGF-2 during the Bharat Jodo Yatra led to the Bengaluru court’s decision. M Naveen Kumar, the manager of MRT Music, the song’s copyright owner, filed the complaint.
The lower court had earlier concluded that if the Congress and its leaders are allowed to continue using songs of different music labels without permission, it would harm the plaintiff and “promote piracy.”
While providing relief to the Congress on Tuesday, on the blocking of accounts, the High Court stated that the relief will be given to the party in only one condition, that is if the party deletes content from their twitter handles that violate MRT Music’s copyrights.
According to livelaw.in, a division bench of Justices G Narendar and PN Desai ruled that “blocking accounts of the party is a bit extreme measure,” and that the impugned judgment “virtually offers an enlarged relief.”
About the copyright infringement case
Three prominent Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, were summoned on Friday, November 4, for allegedly using music from the popular Kannada movie “KGF-2” without authorization during the Bharat Jodo Yatra campaign.
On Kumar’s accusation, the Yashwanthpur police station filed an FIR against Rahul Gandhi, Jairam Ramesh and Supriya Shrinate following the provisions of the Copyright Act, the Information Technology Act, and the Indian Penal Code.
According to the complaint filed by M Naveen Kumar, Jairam Ramesh had allegedly tweeted two videos of the yatra on his official Twitter account. The video showed how popular songs from the movie KGF-2 were used without consent during campaign.
Following a review of the videos, M Naveen Kumar alleged that “all the accused have blatantly, fraudulently and slavishly used the sound recording owned and held by the Complainant in an unauthorized and illegal way, with an objective to make their own personal gains.
Statements of the Bengaluru court
The defendants were ordered by the Bengaluru court to refrain from “unauthorized and illegally” using the complainant’s copyrighted work until the next date of hearing and the court ordered for an appointment of a commissioner “to inspect and conduct necessary electronic audit and also to seize or preserve the infringing material.” The court also asked Twitter to remove three tweets posted by Congress handles and temporarily block handles of Congress and Bharat Jodo Yatra.
“I have carefully reviewed all of the documents and material submitted, including the complaint and the plaintiff’s CD, which was played in court. Plaintiff has specially constructed a CD that compares the original and illegally synced versions of his copyrighted work side by side” the judge said.
The court stated that the evidence presented at this stage is enough to show that the plaintiff, who is engaged in the business of purchasing cinematography films, songs, music albums, etc, will suffer an irreparable injury if the infringement continues. And, that this will also encourage piracy in general.
Regarding the appointment of a commissioner, the court stated, “This court is convinced that if a commissioner is not appointed to make local inspection, the purpose of giving an injunction would be compromised by delay”. As a result, Sri SN Venkateshmurthy, District System Administrator of the Computer Section, Commercial Court, Bengaluru, is appointed as the Local Commissioner, who will go through the websites of defendants, conduct an electronic audit and preserve any infringing materials that are present in the mentioned social media platforms. He will also prepare an inventory of these materials and store them on the court’s system and a separate CD.
Response of the Congress Party
On Monday, the Congress stated that it was “pursuing all possible legal remedies.” “We have read on social media about an unfavorable ruling against INC & BJY social media handles from a Bengaluru court. We weren’t informed about or invited to any of the court proceedings. We are pursuing all legal options available to us,” the official Twitter handle of Congress tweeted on Monday.
Senior Attorney Abhishek Singhvi represented the Congress party in Karnataka High Court on Tuesday. Singhvi argued that blocking the Twitter handles wasn’t necessary right away and would restrict the Congress’s ability to express itself. “You simply want that 45-second clip, which purportedly violates MRT Music’s copyright to be removed from the twitter timeline/handle. We promise that it won’t happen again; It was unintentionally put up,” Singhvi told the Bench.
Read more: Mallikarjun Kharge joined Bharat Jodo Yatra