Pavan Duggal is a cyber law expert and a well-known advocate. In this interview you will learn about many aspects of blogging and the law. Few of the many questions that are answered in this interview:
- Domain and trademark
- Important of pages like about, disclaimer, comment policy.
- Copying blog images from Google search
- What you should know about social media posting
Here is the audio transcript of the video interview:
Harsh: Hey guys, Harsh here and welcome to another episode of Shoutmeloud and today we have a special guest with us, the guy whom I met five years back when I started blogging and this guy is an author, he is a blogger, he is a speaker and today we have Mr. Pavan Duggal with us, thank you sir! With Pavan sir we will be talking a lot about legal aspect of the blogging, what are the things that most of us are doing but we are not aware of the legal issues or the legal concerns related to the blog, so we start with Pavan sir, bit about you, how you started as a cyber-law expert?
Pavan Duggal: well, I am a normal civil and corporate lawyer and got interested in technology law, picked some work for some software companies and internet came along, got fascinated with video and then I wanted to concentrate on this area, it was early days, it was mid 90’s and there was no future but then I thought this is an area to concentrate on, so study, slowly started working, there was nothing happening in India so started working outside India and then Indian government came up with Indian cyber law and since then one has been pretty much focused on all the emerging issues between cyber laws, cyber space and mobile law. anything to do with law and technology?
Harsh: Let’s talk about the trademark issue with the blogs, so every blogger in the start now, they buy a domain name, they have a logo, how important it is for them to trademark their logo and domain name?
Pavan Duggal: for every blogger, the blog is itself the most significant aspect of their online existence, so therefore we must not take our blog very very non serious, we should try to be very serious about it, we should try to protect the names, we can do the names by trying to apply for a trademark registration, the trademark registration is not very expensive, it will just take you small amount of money but will help you to protect your name because if somebody else will want to claim to the rights of the name, then as a blogger, you might find that your legal interests are prejudice , so I will suggest when you blog, try to have some basic precautions so that others don’t touch you, your blogging platforms are not able to misuse or unauthorized to use your blogs name.
Harsh: if you have a popular blog and you might have missed out, I mean the trademark law and if some xyz guy comes and he try to put a trademark for that particular name, how do you protect yourself in that case?
Pavan Duggal: well, it’s not that if you have a registration but did not, you could lock out other people, just understand, trademark is a mark under which you do your trade, the law recognizes the fact that there could be variety of streams of businesses you could be working on, so the law has got different classes, so just because you have got a trademark in one class, does not mean that you will be able to lock out others in other classes, so let me give you an example, Amul is a famous trademark for butter but Amul is also a registered trademark for a government company which is under government invests, so it basically to show that the same name can be ungraded to different person for different business activities and they can still be distinctive , so you will have to be careful that when you apply for your trademark name, it should be what particular capacity or what category, I think it should be category pertaining to internet, pertaining to computers so that, that’s where your online presence is going to be.
Harsh: so and this is also way important for the e-commerce websites especially?
Pavan Duggal: oh yes, if you are doing anything e-commerce, please you must, as a first instance, go ahead and protect your name and all that we are asking you to say is, please go and register with a registrar of trademarks, apply and forget about it, the law is very clear, the day you apply, your protection begins, in India, getting the trademark will normally take some time, maybe a few years as well, so that does not mean that you will stop doing business or stop doing some e-commerce transactions, you apply for a trademark and the law says “the day you apply, the protection begins”.
Pavan Duggal: the law says your [x] parameters include having these terms and conditions, the rules and regulations, privacy policies for your websites, so please have it, if you think that you cannot author it yourself, look at some important ones and take some salient features and then put them on your website, ideally it will be best if you can go through a lawyer, because a lawyer will be able to actually protect you and protect your interest but make sure that when you do a cut and twist, ensure that the names of the source from where you have done cut and paste, do not find a mention on your blog. I have done a case where a blogger put the terms and conditions of Yahoo on his own blog and the terms and conditions all said that, Yahoo will do this and Yahoo will do that, so I think when you do a cut and paste, you have to be very-very careful.
Harsh: blogging has changed a lot now blogs make good money, it makes Huge money, so how important it is for a blogger to trade their blog like a, business do they have to go through some process or it’s like, you know, my personal blog where I am making may be, thousand dollars per month and all will be doing all right.
Pavan Duggal: well, when you are doing blogging as a serious activity, you have to quickly realize it’s a very serious e-commerce transactional process, number 1. Number 2: when you are doing things seriously, please ensure that your blog is on the right side of the law, why? Because any one loose comment anywhere on your blog and your entire blog could be in trouble. you have to realize that in Indian cyber law, we have a provision, which is section 66A, that becomes peculiarly dangerous for bloggers because this section makes it an offence when somebody sends , using a computer or a mobile phone, any information that’s grossly offensive or malicing in character, which means, anybody, whether it’s a blogger himself or somebody who is posting a comment on the blog, if that particular person is writing, publishing content, sending content that is grossly offensive or malicing in character, the blogger better be careful because criminal case can be registered both against the guy who left the comment and also the blogger, under section 66A, VIT act, this gets you [x] in fact, so you will have to be very-very careful when you do your blogging activities.
Harsh: basically a blogger should take care of the comment moderation and should filter out anything, everything that is going on his blog because he is the responsible guy for the blog itself.
Pavan duggal: absolutely, a blogger is responsible for his blog, so it’s the responsibility of the blogger to ensure that there is due diligence, he does not put up any comment which is in violation of the law or which in any case incriminating whether the blogger or the concerned publisher of the content, so you will have to be careful.
Harsh: in recent times, we have seen a great increment in the rise of social media like Facebook, twitter and people are becoming social, anyone from there house become a overnight celebrity, what are the things these online celebrities should know about the law, cyber law especially that might could put them put them out of the trouble.
Pavan Duggal: well, if you are an online celebrity or if you have become an online celebrity, be very careful of what you do online, primarily because if you publish any content online which is in violation of the law, for example which is obscene, in that case, you’ll be in trouble, you publish content which involves false but which has been sent for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, hatred, enemity that also would land you into trouble. Basically, if you are an online celebrity, the thumb rule is, never do any activity online whenever you are in any emotional state of mind. why because, you are more likely or not to actually commit mistakes, you have to quickly realize that internet is a big data dragon with an infinite memory, whatever you are going to put on the internet, will be there for a long-long period of time and because you are an online celebrity, you’ll have to be extremely careful of what you publish, what you transmit, just one off the top remark, could land you into controversy, into legal exposure and could potentially impact your future as an online celebrity.
Harsh: so one has to be very careful what he puts on social Facebook or twitter, each and every word matters here.
Pavan Duggal: absolutely, each word, each character matters now in the age of twitter.
Harsh: alright, so now one questions that we, Indian bloggers especially, we have, though we browse from India but our web hosting, the website which is hosted is on the U.S server, so we commend the jurisdiction of which country?
Pavan Duggal: lot of bloggers believe that because they are blogging platforms are hosted under U.S servers, they are not amenable to Indian law, I think that’s a fallacy, that’s completely false perception, is you are a blogger who is in India, who is using a computer system or a communication device which is physically located in India, then you become amenable under the Indian cyber law, it’s of no consequence that your blog is located or hosted on the server outside the country, so long as blog is read or is impacting computer system or the networks physically located in India, you become amenable to Indian law.
Harsh: what about the images of the blog. so we have this habit and if I am not mistaken, there was a big case against “Times of India” where they the used the image of twilight fairy, an Indian blogger back in 2008 somewhat, but now the number of bloggers are rising and everyone needs images and they just go to google and copy them from google, so what are the legal interrogation of using images like that?
Pavan Duggal: it’s very important for you to be careful when you select the images you want to use on your blog, why? just don’t do a blind random copy paste from the internet, just because information is available on the internet, does not mean that you could use it, there is now some websites which allow you free images or stock images, you can go through them and use them, if you really want to use someone else’s image, please realize that somebody else’s image is copyrightable photograph, is an artistic, a cinematographic work that actually belongs to somebody else in terms of copyrights, so therefore, before picking up any such copyrighted picture, please write an email to the concerned person and ask him for permission to use it, if you get the permission, you can then use it, alternatively, write an email, wait for 36 hours and then put up the picture but please put up below the picture that the said copyright of the picture belongs to so and so, the source, so long as you are being transparent and so long as you are not commercially exploiting the photographs, its fine because it’s part of fair use if you can actually give exact acknowledgment of the source of the picture but if you want to pick up those pictures and utilize it for commercial benefits, then you quickly realize that you will come under the law, the copyright act will go after you and you could be exposed to two kinds of liability, there could be imprisonment and fine, there could also be exposure to injunction and damages, so be very-very careful, a small, reckless activity pertaining to an image could actually cost you a lot in the coming times.
Harsh: so when are hosting international cyber law summit, so could you tell more about the summit, what exactly I can expect or people like me can expect from the summit?
Pavan Duggal: there’s a large number of ambiguity today what exactly is in cyber law or cybercrime and cyber security, so basically to address these ambiguities, to identify what are the emerging trends on cyber law, cybercrimes and cyber security, cyber law pawan duggal and associates is organizing international conference on cyber law, cybercrimes and cyber security. This is basically going to be a one day event which will keep you up to date as to what is happening on these various issues in these complicated scenarios, why? Because there are going to be five gallery sessions, there are going to be 12 parallel sessions and you can pick and choose any subject you would want to go and you will have the top people from the industries, we will have international speakers coming and talking and most significantly you get an opportunity to specifically interact with [x]. so I believe if you are a blogger, I would actually encourage you that you should come to this particular conference because this conference, in one single day, is going to make you up to date as to what are the latest challenges that cyber law, cybercrimes and cyber security we are facing, and what as a blogger, we need to be careful of and this is happening in Delhi on 20th November, so look forward to having all of you bloggers coming for the said conference.
Harsh: all right, so I will look forward to be there. so one question, I am in your office and the interesting thing is, Pavan sir has like four laptops, one Toshiba, one HP, one MacBook but the question is how do you manage this four laptop and how do you manage your time with this four laptop?
Pavan Duggal: you see, one has got different laptops because they have different functions or sign for stuff, so some clients are very-very finicky, they want us to only work in Apple and not work in any other systems, so for those, we will only have to have work in Apple, so the one computer that’s not connected to the internet but that’s got all the information, then there’s this general working computer and then there’s this specific another computer, so I think we divide our different baskets of work under the data that we have and depending on what the requirement is, then we use it because if we are going to randomly put all our data into one particular computer and everything is up there, you are putting all under one particular basket, so it’s best to, the confidential information to keep it as separate as you can.
Harsh: that’s great, so that brings me to this discussion since we all are expert in this field and I am sure you must be using so many layer of protection security on your laptop. What are the things that you will recommend to user to use of the laptop?
Pavan Duggal:okay, first and foremost I’ll suggest don’t use the laptop as it is, because lot of time people believe, I have pick up the laptop, its ready to use, I’ll plugin and I’ll start using, no, that’s not the case, please make sure that your laptop must have some basic minimal levels of security and a good way to get started is having a good antivirus program, there are a lot of free antivirus program available, you can utilize them, there are some licensed ones, you can use them but quickly realize that antivirus is not radiate guarantee to security, antivirus has got certain pre-determined definitions through which it’s going to actually check the data package to save, does it match in the form of, is it a virus or it is not but now there is, you have to quickly realize security is a much bigger bowl game altogether so have a good antivirus, have a good firewall just to ensure that unauthorized intrusion does not take place on your system, whenever possible, if you are dealing with sensitive information, please do not connect sensitive information to the internet because you don’t know at what point of time your laptop’s going to be hacked, in some cases where the camera of the laptop has been hacked to capture the subject, in various forms of unrest or to capture the contents of the meeting, a corporate meeting that’s happening, so hackers are today, taking on to cybercrime as a way of living, so they are going to hack anything possible, so as to legitimately deploy of the benefits of your confidential data, so be very secure, try to make your data secure and try to have good hygiene habits, when you are taking about electronic format, I believe if you do these basic precaution to all extent, you can protect yourself from being a potential victim to cybercrime.
Harsh: sir you have seen the growth, the inception of internet in India, online marketing, e-commerce, blogging all together, what are the things that you would like to tell them so that will help them throughout their career.
Pavan Duggal: I think internet is a fabulous medium to be on, you get life opportunities in front of you, however I would want that when you are on internet, be very careful because when you do any activity on the internet, you leave electronic footprints behind, don’t leave anything which is incriminating, which could land you into trouble, if you are an entrepreneur, if you are a blogger, if you are running an e-commerce website or if your are just about any stakeholder in the digital or mobile ecosystem, utilize the positives of this particular ecosystem to the best of your benefit and advantage, ensure that you don’t commit any criminal activities, also ensure that your platforms don’t become the fertile grounds for hosting criminal activities and ensure you don’t transmit, publish or transmit or publish in the electronic form any information which is in violation of the law, so that it’s important that you must be broadly aware of the broad parameters of the law because they say ” ignorance of law is no excuse in the eyes of law”, it’s always better that you and your activities online are on the right side of the law, have your documented compliances in place, so that next time there’s a problem, there’s a knock on the door by the police, you could some code of law, at least you will have the requisite legal proofs to show that you, your operations are inclined to the law and yet you have not contravene the law. I believe it’s best to be safe, best to keep your data safe and I think once you and your data is safe, sure that’s opening up a doorway to a safe secure future throughout for you.
Harsh: all right, thank you, thank you for your time.
Pavan Duggal: Thank you.
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