Delhi High Court orders Google to take down YouTube videos containing allegations that Indian spices contain cow dung and urine

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The Delhi High Court recently ordered Google to take down videos on the YouTube channels which targeted multiple brands, including ‘Catch Foods’ by claiming that all Indian spices contain cow urine and cow dung [Dharampal Satyapal Sons Pvt Ltd vs Google LLC and Ors.]
Justice Sanjeev Narula restrained two YouTube channels from defaming and infringing the copyright of conglomerate Dharampal Satyapal Sons Pvt Ltd’s which owns products under the brand name ‘Catch’.

The suit was filed by the conglomerate after it found the offending videos on the YouTube channels.

Based on documents produced by the plaintiff, the Court observed that the videos contained defamatory remarks without any basis.

“The impugned videos contain defamatory remarks against Plaintiff’s products, without any basis. Plaintiff has placed on record a list of ingredients contained in their products/ spices advertised in the impugned videos. They have obtained certifications from all concerned regulatory bodies and have even presented reports of an independent food analysis from a certified laboratory, which do not indicate presence of cow dung, cow urine or any other contaminants, as alleged in the impugned videos,” the Court said.

Earlier, on the first day of hearing, Google was directed to disable the access to the videos, and furnish the basic subscriber information, which it did.

Subsequently, summons were issued to the channels ‘TVR’ and ‘Views NNews’. However, they failed to appear and the Court decided to proceed ex-parte.

The plaintiff pressed for a summary judgment, and also brought to court’s attention Rule 4(4) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules, 2021, which prescribes additional due diligence to be observed by social media intermediaries in case such content is uploaded or streamed online.

The Court, after taking the view that the videos contained defamatory remarks without any basis, also observed that there was no authoritative material or underlying reason for the defendants to make such false claims and disseminate fallacious information under the garb of revealing the ‘truth’ or ‘facts’ about Indian spices.

Further, the Court observed that mala fide was manifested by the defendants’ inaction in removing the infringing content despite the plaintiff having raised a complaint, which was also acknowledged by one of the defendants.

Hence, the Court decreed the suit against the defendants. It directed that in the event the videos resurface, the plaintiff could provide the URLs to Google, which has to take necessary action to ensure that they are taken down.

The Court clarified that if the content was not identical, Google could inform the plaintiff of the same within a week after which the plaintiff can take necessary action as per law.

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