May 22,2019 | 20 min read

Self Regulation of Online Curated Content Providers

Author - Associate Debasmita Patra

What is content curation?

It is an act of gathering, discovering, and presenting digital content that surrounds or is related to a specific subject matter. Today content curation has and continues to be marketing staples for many companies with a successful online presence. Curing content does not mean creating new content but amassing the same from various sources and delivering it in an organized manner.

Many of us have been taking an active part in content curation online for years without even knowing it. Users on Facebook and Twitter, for instance, have seen content curation first hand. Other social bookmarking sites or any website that collects headlines of latest stories from the best sites and blogs, displays them in their top news section.

Since online curated content is subject to violation of intellectual rights and fraud and misrepresentation, several high end Online Curated Content Providers (OCCPs) have signed a Self-Regulatory Code of Best Practices under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). This Code is a significant step forward in striking the right balance between defending creating freedoms and protecting consumer interests. It has been in the works for over a year. The main objective of the Code is to ensure the due protection of consumer interest and maintenance of creativity of the content providers. The Code also aims at empowering consumers to make an informed choice on age-appropriate content.

There is a complaint and redressal mechanism as well, under the provisions of the courts. Online video on demand (VOD) service providers, as they are referred to, have adopted a voluntary self-regulation code for their content in India, known as the Code for Self-Regulation of Online Curated Content Providers (the ‘Code’). It enumerates the kinds of video content that will not be published on any platform. The Code also prescribes a maturity rating for content to be released through the platform.

The primary objectives of Code include the follows:-

1. Protect the interests of consumers in selecting and accessing the content that they want to watch, at their convenience.

2. Nurture creativity, encourage innovation, and abide by an individual, freedom of speech and expression.

3.  Empower consumers to make an informed choice on age-appropriate content.

4. Respect and safeguard the creative freedom of content creators and artists.

5. Provide a mechanism for redressal of grievance related to the content made available by respective OCCPs.

The online curated content providers who are signatories to this Code, inter-alia, seek to uphold the freedom of speech and expression, including commercial speech, as envisaged in the Constitution of India (under Article 19(1)).

The Self – Regulatory Code adopts three Rs, namely Regulation, Rating, Redressal.

1. Self- Regulation

The Code prohibits the Videos on Demand (VOD) platforms from maliciously and deliberately publishing any content that:-

•    Represents, in any way or form, sexual parts of a child or a child engaged in real or simulated sexual activities.

• Encourages terrorism and other forms of violence against the State.

• Disrespects the National Anthem or National Flag

• Intents to outrage religious sentiments of any class, community or section of people.

• Has been banned from exhibiting or distributing itself by applicable laws or courts with competent jurisdiction,

•    Major platforms like Netflix, Voot, Hotstar, Zee5, SonyLIV, ALTBalaji, Arre and Eros New are signatories to the Code.


2. Rating of Content

Online curated content is often categorized into three broad categories:

  • General
  • Parental Guidance
  • Age- appropriate audiences

Every platform, Netflix and ALTBalaji, which accepts the Code, is required to display a guidance message or content descriptor and indicative of nature and age – appropriateness of the content.

There are certain deficiencies in this maturity rating system. The Code should mandate the use of age- verification mechanisms for viewing any content appropriate for older audiences only. Content description of YouTube contains 'D' for drug use and 'L' for strong language. Similar mechanisms should be applicable on OCCPs as well. Moreover, the age appropriateness of advertisements displayed on the platforms is often ignored.

3. Redressal Mechanisms

The Code has placed a department that would receive and address any consumer related concerns and complaints, concerning the content. Such a department has to ensure the due adherence of the platforms to the Code. The contact details of the department must be put up on the platform as well as the signatories website so that the consumers as well aware of the redressal route to be followed.

Once a complaint by an aggrieved user is received, the concerned department has to acknowledge the same within three working days. If no violation is made, upon close inspection, the same should be intimated to the consumer within ten days. In case there is a violation of Code, after discussions with internal shareholders, the department must communicate to the aggrieved party within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. There is one significant drawback in the redressal system of OCCPs wherein, unlike the redressal system of a prescribed in self – regulatory codes pertaining to other media, the Code for OCCPs does not allow for a route that an aggrieved user can follow if his or her complaint is either not acknowledge or is not satisfactory. There is the absence of an alternate option for the consumers.

OCCPs have become an indispensable source of entertainment for today’s youth, e\with shows like Sacred Games and Game of Thrones, which are huge crowd pullers. Since such platforms are easily accessible by individuals, proper regulation and maintenance are necessary. In the absence of any pre-established set of norms to abide by, the Self-Regulatory Code that the OCCPs have framed, have made lives more manageable.



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Lawyered Team

Lawyered Team