Live-Streaming Through YouTube A Temporary Arrangement, Says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday said that the live-streaming of court proceedings through third-party applications like YouTube was a “temporary arrangement” until a viable mechanism for hosting the videos in an independent platform is adopted.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha was hearing a plea seeking directions to preserve the copyright of the Court over the video footages of Court hearings live-streamed through platforms like YouTube . The application further sought prevention of usage of live-stream footage for commercial purposes.

At the outset, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the SC Registry, submitted–

Your lordship has issued notice only on one prayer, which is regarding the safeguarding of copyright over the live-streaming. We have responded to that shortly. This is a temporary arrangement. Neither us nor the NIC also has the method or the infrastructure for it right now to host it independently. We are trying to. Your lordships are aware of this, I need not tell you. We are working on options to have a self contained and self-reliant ecosystem.”

The petitioner stated–

NIC is saying that it doesn’t have sufficient infrastructure to livestream without third party apps. Can we surrender the copyright? It cannot go against its own law- its own judgement.”

The application sought that the live-streaming should be done strictly in accordance with the judgement in Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) & Ors. v. Secretary General & Ors., (2018) 10 SCC 639.

CJI Chandrachud told the petitioner : “This was a temporary arrangement. It’s very easy to criticize others, throw stones at others. What better modality do you have? What is the alternative? Tell us about modalities of live-streaming. We’re doing it. We’ll keep it now in August and in the meantime we’ll do some work. Let’s see if there is progress”.

In the order dictated after the hearing, the bench stated :

“On 17th Oct 2022 notice was issued by this court on Prayer A of the IA. In pursuance of the order, affidavit is filed by first respondent. A temporary arrangement has been put into place in view of directions in Swapnil Tripathi and in order to uphold principle of open courts. List after three months.

The petition was filed by former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya, who submitted that the copyright of live-streamed Supreme Court proceedings could not be surrendered to private platforms such as YouTube. The petitioner’s counsel pointed out that as per the said judgment, the copyright of the live-stream will be retained by the Court. It was further held that the recordings and broadcast cannot be used by anyone for commercial purposes.

In response, Registrar of SC’s Computer Cell HS Jaggi said in an affidavit :

Not only the Registry, but NIC as well, at present, does not have the sufficient technical and infrastructure wherewithal to host the live streaming completely on its own without third-party applications and solutions. The dependency on third-party applications to offer the live streaming services to a larger audience, therefore, is inevitable.

CJI Chandrachud has earlier remarked that the efforts are being made to develop an independent platform to host live-stream videos.

CASE TITLE: KN Govindacharya v. Secy Gen WP(C) No. 1016/2019