Mediaah! Now, BCCL’s Times Publishing House takes on law student-blogger

24 May,2013

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

I have been receiving various smses and calls since yesterday about the legal notice that Bennett Coleman’s Times Publishing House is said to have sent a student blogger on Spicy IP, a site that deals with intellectual property issues. It was a flashback to some of the stuff that I was subjected to many years back.

 

But eight years since that happened, I am wiser, understand the law and what can be construed as defamation.

 

My view on the episode:

I have read the offending article, the TPH lawyer’s notice that the website has put up, the website’s reply to TPH and its coverage of the entire issue. (here, here, here and here).

 

The student Aparajita Lath’s article discusses the two decades-old battle that Financial Times of London has had with BCCL’s company Times Publishing House (TPH) over the use of the Financial Times title which TPH has been using for a special edition published from a few centres.

 

I don’t think it’s correct to use the words fair or unfair in business, but it would be perhaps be right to say that it was a smart business strategy which obviously BCCL has protected over the years.

 

Over the last few years, Financial Times (of London) has been flexing its muscles with an eye on launching in India. Mint, the Hindustan Times group’s business daily, has covered the issue extensively. Mint, has been covering media extensively since launch, so it’s not an issue of a rival media group embarrassing BCCL with these reports. That it happens (the embarrassment) is I guess a welcome byproduct.

 

Is Aparajita’s article defamatory? No, it isn’t, though it’s laced with some opinion. She bases her article on four Mint reports and a few posts from Spicy IP.

 

Is it embarrassing for BCCL? Not at all, because Spicy IP isn’t read by the masses. It’s a site for a special interest group, and even if it’s popular amongst a small section of legal practitioners and the judges, it would hardly make any impact on the case.

 

Yes, the reply from Spicy IP is strong, and I am not sure if all that the editor/publisher has written is warranted, but Aparajita’s post is hardly of the nature that TPH should’ve employed a lawyer to send a legal notice. There’s a technical error, admits Spicy IP, which it would’ve corrected.

 

What is upsetting is why The Times of India group did not engage the student and the site either informally with a call or a face-to-face meeting or via a letter or simply a post on the site. By doing what it has done, it’s not only going to earn the wrath of the large and aggressive online fraternity but also have people digging for more negatives of the group. All very avoidable at a time when flagship daily The Times of India celebrates 175 years of existence. After all, doesn’t the group believe in Aman Ki Asha to foster peace with Pakistan and promote various improve-the-country-and-the-world movements like Lead India, Teach India and now I Lead India?

 

Pradyuman Maheshwari is Editor-in-Chief and CEO, MxMIndia, but the views expressed here are his own and aren’t necessarily the stated position of MxMIndia. Reach him at Twitter at @pmahesh or BBM at 29fea79c.

 

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