Media conglomerate TV Today Group has filed a lawsuit against news website Newslaundry seeking Rs 2 crore in damages caused by alleged copyright infringement and defamation.
TV Today Group, which owns major news channels Aaj Tak and India Today, has accused Newslaundry of “uploading infringing, defamatory, commercially disparaging material on their own website”.
The suit, which Scroll.in has accessed, also alleges that Newslaundry has made “disparaging and defamatory allegations” about TV Today Group, its news channels, anchors and management.
Apart from the Rs 2 crore in damages, the suit filed in the Delhi High Court also seeks an order to have 34 articles published on the Newslaundry website and 65 videos on the portal’s YouTube channel removed.
The suit seeks similar action against social media content related to these articles and videos posted on Newslaundry’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The TV Today Group has also asked the Delhi High Court to restrain Newslaundry and its journalists from “writing, tweeting or publishing” anything defamatory about its channels, anchors and management.
Newslaundry co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri told Scroll.in that the case was frivolous.
“It is alarming that these [organisations] are considered the high priests of independent news, free speech and freedom of the press,” Sekhri said. “Now we know why the press and media has come to this stage.... Because of people like the ones in the management of India Today who think that this is a sensible lawsuit.”
Sekhri added that suits such as this should be discouraged and a message needs to be sent to those who think that smaller organisations can be “bulldozed”.
“If I were to review a book and I took a paragraph from it, no one goes around accusing me of copyright infringement of the book,” Sekhri told Scroll.in. “But if someone critiques these news channel...since they are not used to being critiqued, they suddenly say that it is copyright infringement.... When we are calling something out, we have to show what we are calling out.”
Sekhri’s comment were in consonance with Newslaundry’s stance after TV Today Group made 53 claims of copyright infringement against YouTube videos of the news portal earlier this month. Of these, five videos were temporarily struck down by YouTube.
The copyright infringement claims also barred Newslaundry from uploading new videos on its YouTube channel. The last video uploaded on the channel is from three weeks ago.
In a video uploaded on another YouTube channel, Newslaundry contended that Section 52 of the Indian Copyright Act provides for six exceptions that are widely used by defendants in copyright infringement cases.
One of these exceptions is the use of a content to criticise or review the original content.