Sharing newspaper PDFs without permission is a crime

Many share newspapers/ magazines of almost all dailies in PDF format through WhatsApp and Telegram and such other platforms.

People who circulate digital editions of newspapers and magazines illegally will invite punishments under the Copyright Act as well as IT Act Section 43, experts in media and law say.

Circulation of Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of print media without owner’s permission is a violation of the two laws. Print media across the country have been facing what they call 'the PDF menace' for several months and it continues unabated despite filing a number of complaints to the police.

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Pavan Duggal said those who share the PDF copies without permission will have to pay compensation to the company concerned. “If a digital edition is being circulated without the permission of the owner, it is a violation of the Copyright Act as well as the Information Technology Act Section 43 which clearly says that if any attempt is made to destroy, delete or alter any information residing in a computer resource, or diminish its value or utility, it is illegal. This person will be liable to pay damages by way of compensation to the person so affected,”Duggal was quoted as saying in a Times of India report recently.

The PDF circulation also poses serious credibility issues both for the media houses as well as the users. “It opens up the possibility of someone tampering with the content in the newspaper. A third party circulating the paper without permission may even manipulate and alter the content. This can lead to a whole host of legal and credibility issues, and could make one more susceptible to reading the very fake news that newspapers diligently work to avoid,” the ToI report states.

Illegal circulation of PDF versions also affect the e-paper subscription initiatives of several print media. 

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