Circulating Newspaper PDFs in WhatsApp Groups Illegal: Fact Check

Image about Circulating Newspapers PDFs in WhatsApp Groups Illegal
Circulating Newspapers PDFs in WhatsApp Groups Illegal


Circulating PDFs copies of newspapers in WhatsApp, Telegram groups illegal.
INS issues advisory, group admins may face action penalty

Other Versions

It is illegal to broadcast PDF copy of newspaper in WhatsApp group, action can be taken on group admins

अकबार की पीडीएफ कॉपी वाट्सएप ग्रुप में प्रसारित करना गैर कानूनी
ग्रुप एडमिन होगा जिम्मेदार, कानूनी कार्रवाई के साथ ही जुर्माना वसूल सकते है अकबार

Fact Check:

Certain messages on social media warn readers Circulating PDF copies of Newspapers in WhatsApp, Telegram groups is Illegal. They claim Indian Newspaper Society (INS) issued advisory about stringent action against such group admins of WhatsApp and Telegram. The claims as such are mixture of hoax and facts explained here.

Circulating PDFs of Newspapers in WhatsApp, Telegram Groups

India’s nation-wide lockdown to contain the spread of Coronavirus has affected newspapers reaching households. So, reading e-papers has increased drastically, to stay updated of the latest developments. Consequently, many people started sharing PDFs of e-papers freely. This has in turn increased the circulation of such PDFs on WhatsApp, Telegram and other social media applications. The news calling it illegal activity and warning of action against such group admins created abuzz on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

On 2nd May 2020, Dainik Bhaskar Hindi website published the article saying it is illegal to circulate PDF copy of newspaper in WhatsApp groups and action can be taken on such group admins. It also mentions Indian Newspaper Society saying the newspaper can fine WhatsApp group admins in such cases. It explained increase in circulation of PDFs of ePapers and Digital Piracy during lockdown period.

Advisory from Indian Newspaper Society (INS)

In early May 2020, the Indian Newspaper Society, INS in fact cautioned against piracy and theft of newspapers in digital format. INS expressed concern it is not okay to copy a PDF from a paid e-paper service and forward. INS said it is affecting business, particularly if the e-paper is a paid service. The secretary general of INS said in an advisory:

“A lot of newspapers are available in the ePaper format online in the morning every day, some of them being paid and some being free. Many users are actually copying the newspaper and creating PDFs which they circulate in WhatsApp and Telegram groups to the readers – leading to a loss in both subscription revenue for the print newspapers as well as ePapers digitally.”

The secretary general added it was illegal and publications were trying to tackle it in their own ways. INS encouraged its member organizations to take legal action against offenders, especially against WhatsApp and Telegram administrators. The organization suggested them to communicate clearly in Apps, Websites and Newspapers circulating a copy or part of an epaper is illegal and individuals doing so will face strict legal action along with heavy penalties.

So, circulating free PDFs of e-paper (online newspapers) in groups is not illegal. However, if someone makes a copy of it or a portion of it in PDFs and circulates then it will be considered illegal. The advisory from INS came at a time when media companies are facing fall in revenues due to lockdown and laying off employees or cutting their salaries.

Free Sharing

On the other hand, the Free Press Journal and Indian Express Group deferred with INS. They assured readers sharing PDFs or any form of their paper in any form is not an illegal act. They did not want their readers to suffer in the lockdown period and keep all of them informed.

Hoax or Fact:

Mixture of Hoax and Facts.

Like it? Share with your friends!

Prashanth Damarla