Can WhatsApp be used to share pirated movies?

by | Dec 30, 2021 | 0 comments

Do you share pirated movies or movie clips on WhatsApp or WhatsApp groups, if yes, you should read this!

As per the orders of the Delhi High Court, WhatsApp suspended two million Indian accounts and received 345 grievance reports between May 15 and June 15. Based on a lawsuit filed by Zee, it also ordered WhatsApp to take similar action on those accounts which were used to circulate pirated copies of the film “Radhe Your Most Wanted Bhai”.

An official complaint was filed with cybercrime police by Zee and then the matter was taken to the Delhi High Court requesting an interim relief for defendants who were responsible for distributing the movie online. WhatsApp informed the court that they have policies in place for copyright infringement and they suspend or terminate user accounts as per their policy.

On May 20th, Justice Sanjeev Narula granted an ex parte injunction, i.e., asked eight alleged pirates to restrain from pirating copies of the film and ordered WhatsApp to suspend two accounts whose users were yet to be identified. It also told WhatsApp that it should suspend accounts that were allegedly used to pirate movies within 24 hours as per the instructions of Zee.

On June 1st, the personal details belonging to 8 defendants were handed over to the plaintiffs by service providers. Counsel for the remaining 4 alleged pirates said that they wish for a peaceful settlement of the matter with Zee. But there was no confirmation on the same by the media company.

While WhatsApp Suspended its Users Accounts it Objected Further Suspensions

Mukul Rohatgi confirmed that while its client – WhatsApp, suspended two accounts as per the court’s order, it had concerns regarding the suspension of future accounts simply based on Zee’s allegations. He argued that WhatsApp can only be held accountable in a situation where it knows that illegal content is being distributed and still refuses to take it down. Further, with the end-to-end encryption feature of WhatsApp accounts, it claimed that it cannot see the messages of its users. Since it cannot validate the claims; this “unfettered discretion” to remove WhatsApp accounts whenever Zee chooses to is not reasonable.

Amit Sibal – the counsel representing Zee said that, since Zee is a responsible company, it would not misuse the order and it was just and proper to suspend accounts. He said that in such cases Zee could be subjected to judicial scrutiny and he also agreed for additional safeguards if it meant that order can be in place.

Justice Narula ruled that this matter would require additional consideration. But, later upon finding merit in Mr. Rohatgi arguments, the court decided that it would be appropriate for the accounts to be suspended based on the orders of the court.

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