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Institute injuncts mag, Penguin, Google from publishing criticism

Classic Penguin books, not banned
Classic Penguin books, not banned

Delhi-based management institute IIPM (Indian Institute of Planning and Management) has filed Rs 50 crore defamation suit against magazine The Caravan, Penguin Publishing and Google after having injuncted the magazine from carrying an article critical of the IIPM.

IIPM had first filed a lawsuit in Assam’s Silchar district despite being headquartered in Delhi and obtained an ex-parte injunction against the publication of the article titled, “Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri Made a Fortune Off the Aspirations – and Insecurities – of India’s Middle Classes”.

Authored by New York-based professor and The Caravan’s contributing author Siddhartha Deb, the article which is a chapter from Deb’s upcoming book published by Penguin criticised Chaudhuri and the business practices of IIPM, according to Medianama.

IIPM which impleaded itself as second plaintiff (first plaintiff being a local resident and IIPM’s commissioned agent) alleged having been caused “grave harassment and injury” due to publication of the article while claiming cause of action against Google for “publishing, distributing, giving coverage, circulating, blogging the defamatory, libellous and slanderous articles”.

Medianama reported: “Technically, Google doesn’t publish, distribute or blog articles. Its users do. In legal-speak, Google is what is defined as an “intermediary”: it doesn’t have control over the activities of its users, and is not actively involved. It follows a mechanism to take down content when complaints are filed. Even as a search engine, wherein it might provides links to articles criticizing IIPM as search results – and this may amount to “providing coverage” – it remains an intermediary.”

“The new IT Rules, as flawed as they are, could grant Google protection against IIPM. However, Google will be liable if IIPM asks Google to remove specific search results by claiming these are “grossly harmful” or “harassing”. Even if Google does censor certain queries, it will become impossible for it to censor all comments, however grossly harmful or harassing. This is where the IT Rules fail.”

Photo by Matt Seppings

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