TikTok Says It Doesn’t Exercise Editorial Control Over Content
Short-video platform TikTok on Wednesday said it does not exercise editorial control over users’ content but may enter into contractual agreement with creators that gives it “certain exclusivity rights” over the content.
The remarks come amid a standoff between the Chinese company and homegrown social networking platform ShareChat. TikTok had sent a take-down notice to ShareChat to remove certain content that the latter complied with. ShareChat confirmed receiving the request and acting upon it.
Last week, ShareChat had approached the information technology ministry expressing concern over TikTok’s move and the impact of such exclusive arrangements.
In a statement on Wednesday, TikTok said its platform “does not exercise editorial control over users' content, which is produced entirely under users’ sole discretion. However, TikTok may enter into mutual contractual agreement with some creators, where TikTok may enjoy certain exclusivity rights over the content of these creators”.
It added that in this regard, it has undertaken legal action as part of its commitment to protect its users from copyright infringement.
ShareChat, however, did not comment on the issue.
In its letter to the ministry last week, ShareChat had rued that such take-down actions go against the principles of an intermediary, which is conceptually a neutral platform.
“Intermediaries cannot knowingly host or publish any information or initiate the transmission of any information. By entering into such exclusive arrangements, TikTok selects/has rights to the content being transmitted, and knowingly hosts/publishes such information,” ShareChat said in its letter, seen by PTI.
ShareChat had added that instead of acting as intermediaries--that are protected by safe harbour liability exemptions--such exclusivity deals result in these platforms being considered broadcasters or streaming services and therefore directly liable for the nature of the content distributed by them.
The company, which counts Twitter and Shunwei Capital among its investors, requested the ministry to take measure to “identify platforms that claim to be intermediaries but engage in business practices that result in them losing their 'safe harbour’ protections”.
“Our hope is that policy clarity would result in fairer regulation of the intermediaries and prevents entities with deeper pockets from limiting access to content creators to Indian companies,” it added.
It also cited several state and central rules to argue that the government has already taken policy position against exclusive arrangement by intermediaries in several sectors.
ShareChat had asserted that it is not against such commercial arrangements, but only the legal implications of such arrangements on intermediary platforms.
“Our request is that the government clarifies the intermediary liability status of platforms engaging in such practices,” it had said.