Free Press Journal

Govt files content licence agreement with Google in HC



New Delhi: After informing Delhi High Court that the government has no formal or separate agreements with social media sites, government today filed on record a content licence agreement entered into with Google Ireland in 2013. A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva asked the government to file the agreements it has with other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp within a week.

If the government does not file these documents, then it has to state on affidavit that it does not have such agreements with those entities, the court said and listed the matter for further hearing on February 9.

The court was hearing a PIL by filed by former BJP leader K N Govindacharya raising questions on social media usage by the government. Govindacharya’s lawyer, Virag Gupta, was asked by the court to file a brief note containing the points on which he would be arguing.

The Centre had earlier in an affidavit told the court that the government’s media wing and IT departments were using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter by entering into standard agreements and not any formal or separate deals. The government had submitted that the agreements are “accepted” in ‘click and wrap’ mode wherein assent to the terms and conditions is given by clicking on an ‘OK’ or ‘agree’ button on a dialogue box or a pop-up window.

The submission had been made by Department of Electronics and Information Technology in an affidavit in which it had also said that the media wing of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube platforms of social media for information dissemination.

The government had earlier placed before the court the standard agreement it had with Facebook. Gupta had told the court that as per contracts the government has with these companies, it was “transferring/ surrendering” all intellectual property rights of the data being uploaded.

Earlier, the court had observed it appeared that when anything was uploaded on social media sites, the websites got a licence to the intellectual property rights (IPR) of the content without paying any royalty and had asked the Centre whether it was aware of this.

The court had also observed that when the government gives royalty-free licence to Facebook without anything in return, “it was akin to (giving) state largesse”.