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YouTube ­has been directed “not to host content that violates any law” of the country by the Delhi HC last week (pdf), after Tata Sky approached the court demanding YouTube to take down video clips that apparently showed methods to crack encrypted codes on Tata Sky set top boxes (STBs) for free viewing. Tata Sky’s advocate said that YouTube had ‘failed to act promptly’ when it sent a takedown request in July 2015; this compelled the company to approach court for relief.

“In terms of Rule 3 (1) (e) of the ITIG, YouTube is obliged not to host content that violates any law for the time being in force,” read the Judgment on Wednesday.

However, YouTube’s advocate mentioned in court that “there was no question” of it violating laws intentionally, since it is not the original author of videos hosted on its platform. He added that Tata Sky in its complaint to YouTube, wrongly classified the nature of the violating content as a copyright infringement, by claiming that it owned copyrights to the encrypted codes on STBs. The nature of violation being “circumvention of technological measures” was wrongly appealed by Tata Sky as a violation of trademark, and hence YouTube couldn’t take an action promptly, it said during trial.

“…it was Tata Sky which led YouTube LLC to believe that Tata Sky owned the copyright over the encryption in the STBs, which it obviously did not, and YouTube LLC cannot be faulted for suggesting that a complaint for copyright violation ought to be filed by Tata Sky…had Tata Sky not been unclear about the kind of violation that had taken place, YouTube LLC may have acted even more promptly than it did to take down the offending material from its website.”

YouTube’s policies for reviewing takedowns ‘inadequate’, alleges TataSky

TataSky’s legal representative said that the policies developed by the video streaming service was inadequate to deal with type of difficulty it was facing—videos on how to hack into STBs for free viewing. It argued in court that while filing a takedown request, it cited that the videos “provided a way to circumvent technological measures adopted by Tata Sky in their STBs to the their subscribers”. It added that it was in fact YouTube, which “characterized this (the video) as violation in the first place, and then failed to act promptly.”

The high court however noted that it is not practical for YouTube to be reviewing each upload by its users, but it sided with Tata Sky with the case as it found that the videos were “violative of its (Tata Sky’s) rights and of broadcasters who own the HD content”. It then went on to point that YouTube’s review team was slow in taking down the content.

“YouTube’s review team appears to have got into a bind about correctly ‘categorising’ it instead of actually taking a call on whether the nature of the content required taking down. If it had focused on the latter aspect the need for Tata Sky to have approached this Court for relief could have been avoided,” the court noted during the judgment.

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