T-Series cites Google for YouTube infringement

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NEW DELHI -- One of India's biggest record and home video labels, Mumbai-based T-Series, has served a legal notice to Google for alleged copyright infringement by its subsidiary YouTube.

In an interview Wednesday, Mangadan Maroli Satish, president of T-Series' public-performance licensing division, said: "YouTube has been carrying videos of songs and even complete films of our titles such as 'Don' and 'Jaan-E-Man' (Beloved). We first sent them a letter in January, to which we got no response, after which we served them a legal notice on Feb. 22."

Following the first letter, dated Jan. 27 and sent to Google Asia Pacific vp Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, T-Series officially sent a legal notice Feb. 22 that quoted the Indian Copyright Act of 1957 under which violations could lead to penalties and imprisonment that might extend to three years.

In both cases, Satish said he did not hear from Google, which has prompted T-Series to pursue the matter in the Delhi High Court.

"We plan to go to court very soon and are seeking minimum damages worth $2.7 million," Satish said. If it goes to court, T-Series could be the first Indian entertainment company to sue Google.

Communications and public affairs manager Roli Agarwal said: "We do not control the content on our site. Our users post the content on YouTube -- including videos, comments and ratings. Our community guidelines and clear messaging on the site make it clear that users must own or have permission from copyright holders to post any videos.

"We prohibit users from uploading infringing material, and we cooperate with copyright holders to identify and promptly remove infringing content," he added. "The guidelines for requesting removal are available online -- these explain what kind of materials the complaining party will need to provide so that we can effectively review their case."

But Satish said T-Series "will not take this lying down. Google has to realize that they are in effect promoting a form of piracy by distributing content for which they do not have any clearance."

Referring to Viacom's recent $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube, Satish added: "Its ironic that Google hasn't realized that following lawsuits filed internationally by entertainment companies, they need to be more strict and aware of copyright infringement in India as well."

Observers are expected to closely monitor how YouTube will battle copyright infringement in India, which could see other copyright holders taking action given that a quick search on YouTube yields Bollywood and Indian content, including this year's Oscar entry "Rang De Basanti" (Paint It Yellow).

"Basanti" Mumbai-based production banner UTV said it "supports any efforts to combat piracy." In an interview, UTV Films' marketing and communications manager Siddharth Roy Kapur said: "You can expect a formal announcement from UTV shortly about how we plan to tackle this issue."
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