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This article is written by Mithi Jaiswal pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation, and Dispute Resolution from Lawsikho.

Introduction

Terms and conditions are a document laying down the set of rules governing the contractual relationship between the service provider and the user. When it comes to the music industry in India, T-Series is at the pinnacle. It is a pioneer Music Label Company and Movie Production powerhouse. Over the years, it has represented and produced artists like Sonu Nigam, Falak, Adnan Sami, and Himesh Reshammiya. Recently, T-Series became the highest subscriber channel on YouTube with 134 Million Subscribers. It currently has 184 Million Subscribers.

This article endeavours to examine the terms and conditions (hereinafter referred to as “T&C”) of the website of T-Series, i.e., www.tseries.com. The blog will also analyze the meritorious and demeritorious parts of these T&C. Finally, the author will conclude the blog by providing suggestions based on the analysis.

Background

T-Series is owned and operated by Super cassettes Industries Pvt. Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “SCIL). Late Mr. Gulshan Kumar established the T-Series in 1983. Mr. Bhushan Kumar, son of Mr. Gulshan Kumar, is the current chairman and Managing Director of T-Series, who took over the reins in 1997. He has now built T-Series into a $500 Million business of music and films. The scope of the blog is limited to only terms and conditions; therefore, the author will only be focusing on the terms and conditions of T-Series.com. Let’s start with an overview of terms and conditions in general. 

Terms and conditions of services are a set of rules which a user must follow to avail him of the services offered by the website. Moreover, terms and conditions also function as a disclaimer to the user for exemption liabilities that may arise on the use of the website. These T&C have a legally binding nature impliedly agreed by the user upon the use of the services by said user. The owner of the website can enforce these T&C against the user if he does not follow the rules of the use articulated therein. Similarly, the user can enforce these T&C against the owner if the owner refuses services arbitrarily.

Analysis of terms and conditions

T&C of Tseries.com are entered between SCIL and the user. However, to avoid confusion, T-Series has been used instead of SCIL (Company that owns T-Series). Now, that we have understood the basics, let us, deep-dive, into major clauses of the terms and conditions of T-Series which has been dealt with in detail under the following subtopics:

1. Access to the services

T-Series provides services to the user such as feeds, RSS, and various contents of varied types. These services are available for the user’s own non-commercial use. The company also exempts itself, its subsidiaries, its agents, or other concerned persons from any responsibilities for the action or non-action of the user concerning the contents of the sites. Consequently, T-Series also reserves the right to amend, delete or add the T&C, content of the website, and any feature or services offered on the website. The onus is on the user to keep checking the websites to gain familiarity with the changes. 

This section also mandates that by mere use of the website, the user is bound to agree with the T&C and the responsibility is on the user that he has the legal capacity to enter into the agreement and make purchases on the website. Since it is a website, the jurisdiction becomes an important issue, therefore, the company has specified that the agreement is void in those jurisdictions; thereby revoking the right to access the website.  

2. Site content

T-Series provides the user to use the content for non-commercial use only with further impositions such as;

  1. Limited use.
  2. Non-exclusive right. 
  3. Non-transferable right.
  4. Non-sub licensable right.

However, the terms provide an option for business use only after taking written permission from the company. The company also exempts itself from any infringement whatsoever, on account of materials or content provided by the user. Lastly, T-Series also reserves the right to criminal and civil remedy for violation of the T&C. 

T-Series also grants itself a transferable, infinite, royalty-free, and non-exclusive right to the user’s content which is provided by the user. The company also provides itself with all intellectual property rights associated with the content provided by the user. Further, the onus is on the user to not post defamatory, libellous, abusive, or offensive content on the website. The owner of the website, T-Series also reserves the right to remove all or any content on the website. 

The company also debars the users to use logos of SCIL and other marks, logos, products, and service names owned by SCIL. Any breach thereof, of T-Series or any third party by contents of the user, shall make the user solely responsible. Lastly, this clause also provides T-Series with a right to terminate the account of users on fraudulent, abusive, or illegal practices. 

3. Restrictions

The clause provides various restrictions on the user described as follows;

  1. The user is solely responsible for the activity performed while availing himself of the services of the website. 
  2. The user cannot or even attempt to gain access to private information such as passwords of any website user or to gain unauthorized access to the site and its connected sources. 
  3. The user cannot use the website for any illegal purposes. 
  4. The user cannot breach the security of T-Series computer systems or hack the servers or transfer or store any illegal material on the website.

The breach of any or all of these above-mentioned restrictions may attract civil or criminal liability on the user. 

4. Warranty disclaimer

This clause releases the liabilities on T-Series which may arise by the user’s access to the website. The company absolves itself of any control or duty which may arise when users use the website like the identity of users accessing the site, impact of contents on users, interpretation of contents. Moreover, T-Series also absolved itself from the decency, legality, accuracy, or copyright compliances. It provides the content on a “is as” basis, i.e., in the original condition.

Further, the company also protects itself from breach of privacy of any communication or information shared on the website. However, the company states that the T-Series has taken adequate safeguards. Lastly, this clause also relieves the company from any damages or losses which may arise to users while using the website’s services.

5. Indemnity and limitation of liability

Indemnity clauses provide compensation on account of damages or losses suffered by the company on account of the user’s access to the website or violation of T&C or any other IPR infringement. This clause protects T-Series alongside its parent company, its subsidiaries, any associated company, employees, or agents. Thereby, it provides well-rounded protection to itself and its associated company and persons. 

Similar protection has been provided via the limitation of liability clause whereby, the company, as well as its parent company, its subsidiaries, any associated company, employees, or agents, are exonerated from the acts such as – 

  1. Excess fee-charging for availing services. 
  2. Direct or indirect loss or damage on the access to the website. 
  3. Any direct or indirect loss due to this agreement, or delay or inability to use the website. 
  4. Or any other criminal or civil liability arising out of the use of the website.

Observations from the prior analysis

SCIL is a prominent music company and after careful perusal, few observations can be drawn from the earlier analysis. One of the foremost features of their T&C is the well-drafted clauses. The clauses work in tandem to serve their purpose without mellowing each other’s effect. They provide well-round protection to the company, its parent companies, its subsidiaries, its associated firms, its employees, and agents. 

Another striking feature of their T&C is the jurisdiction aspect as it becomes difficult to enforce the agreement owing to varying state legislation. To overcome this problem, the agreement has been declared void in those jurisdictions; thereby revoking the right to access the website. This safeguards the interest of the company as well as its related organizations and persons. Lastly, the agreement is applicable only for individuals and not for corporations or other entities. This secures the interests of the T-Series against any protection offered by the law to corporations. Moreover, it becomes impractical to imprison an artificial person such as a company. Thus, these clauses are very comprehensive. These features can be incorporated by other firms to protect their interests. 

However, there are a few downsides to T&C of T-Series.com as well. As they are standardized contracts, the bargaining power of the individual is very less. Moreover, the clauses are heavily one-sided, giving little to no room for users. This can be seen from earlier analysis as well. The company has absolved itself from practically every liability arising out of its conduct or the user’s conduct.  As mentioned earlier, such protection has been extended to other entities associated with the T-Series as well. Lastly, the company has also absolved itself from any liability whatsoever for the contents on their website including the quality control of contents as well as privacy of the users. 

Conclusion

Thus, in this blog we discussed the T&C, background of terms and conditions as well as the T-Series, carefully scrutinized their T&C, and weighed their plus points alongside their drawbacks. The clauses are very well contemplated, comprehensive, and provide all-around protection to the company. Therefore from the company’s point of view, they are written well. The issue arises when we look from the user’s perspective as they leave no room for them. The rules are heavily one-sided and there is little to no protection in case of default by the company. Therefore, it needs to be seen whether such one-sided conditions will change over time to protect its users as well as incorporate IT intermediaries’ rules and data protection laws.

References


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