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Relax, there is no ban on Google Docs in India

AP Photo/ Bikas Das
The official broadcaster wants people to watch World Cup on TV, not stream it illegally online.
  • Diksha Madhok
By Diksha Madhok

Editor and Director, Qz Platform, India

This article is more than 2 years old.

Earlier today, various media reported that internet service providers in the country have started blocking 472 websites, including Google Docs and Google’s URL shortener in response to a Delhi high court order. The court was acting on a petition by Multi Screen Media (MSM), the company that owns the broadcast rights to the ongoing FIFA World Cup.

The story caused outrage on social media, with many wondering how exactly Google Docs, the word processing and sharing service, might have violated MSM’s copyright. Not to mention the court’s apparent lack of tech savvy in accepting a plea to block a url shortener.

All of those concerns are valid. But users of Google Docs don’t have to worry.

Before the department of telecom could direct ISPs to block the listed websites, some new developments diverted the court’s order. Namely, Airtel, a prominent ISP which was made party to the case, approached the court saying the order should specify individual urls hosting such content and should not block entire websites.

MSM did not agree to this, but submitted a revised list comprising 219 websites. “We pruned the list and submitted to court only those websites that were heavily violating our IP,” says Sai Krishna Rajagopal, the counsel for MSM. Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Akhil Sibal also appeared for MSM in the case. None of the Google websites are part of the new list. Justice G.S. Sistani of the Delhi high court passed a judgment on 1 July, making the earlier order applicable to the 219 new websites, according to the judgment, which was reviewed by Quartz.

“The court did not agree to the plea that only individual urls should be blocked. So now DoT will issue instructions to block all the 219 websites,” Rajagopal says.

He said he was unsure how Google Docs got into the list in the first place. MSM worked with MarkScan, which helped in identifying IP violations. Abhishek Dhoreliya, CEO of MarkScan, declined to comment on the case.

MSM, which runs Sony Entertainment TV, had contended that it has made “substantial investments in securing the exclusive mobile transmission and Internet Broadband Transmission Rights ” for the World Cup. Infringement on its rights by “rogue websites,” which were illegally providing access to the matches to Indian public, was resulting in substantial loss of revenue for the company.

“We do not have the details of the order yet, thereby we are unable to comment on the specifics of this case,” said a Google spokesperson in India. “There is no interruption of our services mentioned in the order as of now.”

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