Here’s a sneak peak (possible spoiler) at what Pirates of Bollywood brings to its readers in its court arguments on copyright infringement.. Alluring, isn’t it? Read on then.
Pirates of Bollywood – Court Arguments on Copyright Infringement- An Excerpt (Chapter 59)
Sipping on her coffee, Justice Somaiya said, “Counsels, let us start the rebuttals session. As I indicated earlier, we will not be following the standard procedure, and I will interrupt only, if and when, things get out of control.” The unique rebuttal process was new to Arjun, but Vachaspati, having argued before Justice Somaiya several times before, was well aware of the format she was referring to.
“Your Ladyship,” Vachaspati started, “my learned friend here has tried hard, very hard in fact, to show that the Copyleft Foundation is an online Messiah, working for public benefit. I would have been convinced, my Lady, totally convinced, if not for one tiny problem.” Making a quizzical face, whilst scratching his head, he asked, “if it is about providing selfless service to the society, why then, my Lady, is the Foundation interested in making money, tons of money. The answer to that question, my old wisdom has failed to work out.”
“Your Honor,” Arjun responded, “every organization, irrespective of the nature of its purpose, needs to raise funds to pursue goals. That is the case even with the highly revered and regarded groups like Missionaries of charity. Different organizations raise funds in different ways, and my client has chosen the path of raising funds through one of its technologies. That is perfectly legal, and I am not sure why Mr. Vachaspati is fretting about it.”
“Whether the activities are legal or not is for the Honorable Court to decide, is it not,” Vachaspati said to Arjun in a mocking tone. “My Lady,” he continued, “the end cannot justify the means, even assuming, without conceding, that the Defendant’s end is genuine. The Copyleft Foundation is raising funds by encouraging copyright infringement, an illegal act in itself, whatever it might be using the funds for. It is not unlike justifying the sale of narcotics because the drug dealer is running an orphanage.”
Annoyed with the analogy, Arjun retorted loudly, “Your Honor, respected Counsel for the Plaintiff seems to be drawing conclusions at his whims and fancies, and relying on those conclusions to draw unwarranted inferences about the bona fides of my client. Any person with average intelligence would understand from the way SHARE is structured that Copyleft Foundation has neither knowledge, nor control over files being exchanged by users. Unlike Napster, Grockster, and Mega Upload, which have been shut down, there is no central index of files, no support or help offered, and there is no active involvement in file transfer on SHARE. My client is completely hands off, and is in no way encouraging or inducing infringement, and there is nothing illegal about its activities as claimed by my respected counterpart.”
Waving his hands slowly, Vachaspati laughed aloud. “My Lady, the learned counsel is taking an ostrich-like approach. According to him, once you close your eyes to what is happening, you are free from liability. This is the essence of willful blindness. I find it ludicrous that everyone in the world except for Copyleft Foundation knows that 90% of content on SHARE is pirated. What has the Foundation done to stop this? Absolutely nothing. The simple step they need to implement is a policy, and a technology measure to prevent, control and take down such content from their platform. But, my Lady, they will not do it. Because that will reduce their user base, advertisement revenues, subscription lists, and the money they make.”
“Your Honor, all of a sudden,” Arjun replied, “The learned counsel for ACP is beginning to sound like a tyrant. His orders: impose controls on what people can do and we will let you go. In other words, kill the freedom of users to exercise free will, kill the very philosophy my client stands for: free culture of creativity and sharing.”
He took a long breath before continuing, “I wonder how the learned counsel got to the figure of 90%; probably another of his fancies, but I have this to say this. All kinds of content are being exchanged, and I believe that includes pirated content. However, contrary to the opinion of the counsel for the Plaintiff, I don’t think the existence of infringing content is enough to show my client’s liability. What needs to be shown is that my client instigated or encouraged sharing of such content, which he has utterly failed in demonstrating or proving.”
“I will repeat my point for your benefit,” Vachaspati snapped. “Just answer these questions for me: being aware that infringing content is exchanged using your tool, have you not consciously refrained from taking any steps to stop it? Are you not benefiting from the exchange of infringing information and user base through advertising and other means? By doing these things, your client has violated the law, and brought liability onto itself, much to your displeasure.”
“Although it is not necessary to answer your questions, I will,” Arjun replied. “We have knowledge that all kinds of information are being exchanged and have consciously stayed away from monitoring or interfering in such transfer for the sake of safeguarding privacy, ensuring confidentiality, and most importantly, protecting freedom of users. My client is making money, but that is not from infringing content, it is from the user base, irrespective of the nature of content being shared.”
“My Lady, despite the choice and interplay of words, the counsel for the Defendant just accepted that they are profiting from SHARE’s user base, most of which is built due to availability of infringing content. That, I believe, is enough to establish liability for indirect copyright infringement.”
“I disagree, Your Honor,” Arjun retorted. “My client is in no way liable for any sort of infringement. Holding my client liable would amount to impeding progress of technology, curbing creativity, and usurping user freedom.”
“My Lady,” Vachaspati submitted, “Letting SHARE, and similar technologies survive will have a chilling effect on creative activity, by providing a tool to rob creators of the rewards they deserve to get. Every time a pirated movie or music is exchanged, many creators are losing their deserved remuneration for labor. Your Ladyship must stop SHARE, and thereby uphold creators’ interests.”
Arjun finally responded saying, “Creativity springs from freedom of thought and expression, and stalling novel technology can in no way help creativity, Your Honor. We cannot hope to promote one type of creativity by demoting another.”
“All right gentlemen, I have heard your arguments and appreciate your insights,” Justice Somaiya said, when they fell silent. “I will review the case, and call for another hearing. Until then, this case will remain pending. I hope you will be able to appear once again during the next two to seven days.”
“Of course, Your Honor.” Both, Vachaspati and Arjun concurred on something for the first time that day.
Charles and Adara watched the rebuttals open mouthed, and sat still and speechless until the Judge ended the proceedings. “This is freaking great,” Charles said, looking at Adara. “I absolutely agree with you,” Adara replied, walking after Arjun and Jose.
“What a duel! It has been a long time since I witnessed such arguments. That young man stood up to Vachaspati all through. I even have a headline for our story tomorrow: A Clash of Equals. We will push for front page.”