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Hungama & The Legality Of Huuked File Sharing In India

Indian mobile content services company Hungama.com will bring file sharing application Huuked to India. Huuked is available for Symbian Series 60 and Java enabled handsets, and the Indian version will integrate the Hungama.com digital store, allowing downloaders to also share files via the Huuked application. Huuked allows users to transfer pictures, videos and other files of any size in real time. Frankly, the Hungama store addon for Huuked is more like a premium feature on an otherwise free service, and while Hungama might hope that it allows more users to sign up for the Hungama.com music store – users can still download the application, without the Hungama. I just did, but unless more of my friends sign up, I don’t know whom to share with. From a telecom operator perspective, Huuked file sharing means more data transfer, and hence more data revenue. I’d be more inclined to use this over WiFi, which I am.

Huuked, Tranz & The Legality Of Mobile File Sharing In India

Around a year ago, Innoz, a startup which also launched SMSGYAN, had piloted a mobile file sharing application called Tranz. At that point in time, since the IT Rules had not been finalized, it wasn’t clear whether they could be held liable for content that was being transferred between users, through their application. Remember that at that time, T-Series had argued in court that the IT Act doesn’t cover instances of copyright infringement, and no protection (called Safe Harbor) for the intermediary (in that case MySpace) was applicable. Protection against copyright infringement is a part of the draft Copyright (Amendment) Bill of 2010, which hasn’t yet made it to the Indian Parliament. Our comments here.

The IT Rules are now out, and while they do endanger free speech online, the basic premise of the intermediary guidelines is the provision of safe harbor: as long as the terms specify certain conditions, and intermediaries (Huuked and Innoz) put in processes to ensure that instances related to violating of terms are removed within 36 hours, they will not be held liable. Also, they shouldn’t be party to editing or modifying the content. While the rules themselves may be open to interpretation, at least, now, there are rules, though Hungama and Innoz may have liked to wait for the finalization Copyright Bill as well.

As an aside – isn’t it ironic that Hungama, which leads the fight against music copyright infringement alongwith T-Series in India, is introducing a file sharing application?

Correction: we’d mentioned that Innoz had launched M For Mumbai, but the company informs us that was not their product

Note: I’m not a lawyer, so my take on the rules may not be entirely accurate, so it’s best to consult with your lawyer on this issue. Am also open to correction and changes. If you have an expert view to share on file sharing, for publication at MediaNama, please to share it with us at nikhil@medianama.com

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