Last week, following the lawsuit filed by the IRIB against Aparat, all of Aparat’s apps including Aparat, Filimo and Aparat Kids were removed from the biggest android market in Iran.
Aparat is the biggest video sharing service in Iran which started in January 2011. Since there was no other competitors and YouTube being banned in the country, Aparat reached to one million video impressions per day after nearly two years of its launch in December 2012. In October 2014, Aparat reached to 4 million video impressions per day which was a big milestone for the company in only two years. According to the company’s statistics, right now Aparat has 7.5 million video impressions per day which is a massive number which ranks this company in the first place in the country. Aside from these numbers Aparat also took Netflix’s strategy in content production with a little bit of modification which helped Aparat to become more mainstream.
Filimo which is a video on demand platform officially started working in February 2014 with Over 1000 Iranian films, dubbed foreign films, animations and documentaries. Along with each video content, Filimo is also providing some information about the content as well. Filimo adapts the playing quality to the users’ Internet speed hence ensuring smooth playing of the video in case of a drop in the Internet speed. Right now the original subscription fee for this service is 15 thousand Toman (4.2 dollars) but you can get it for 10 thousand Toman (2.8 dollars) with discount. Aside from the Iranian content, you can watch popular TV series and movies such as BlackList, The Night Of and even HBO’s Band of Brothers. Filimo has also tried to lower the bandwidth prices for its users by signing contracts with some of the internet providers in the country. With this program, users who are using specific internet providers won’t be charged for the data usage from their providers.
Aparat Kids was launched in December 2014. This was a new feature which added to Aparat. This feature on Aparat was intended to make it easy for children to browse through the available online content on Aparat while ensuring parents that their children have access only to appropriate content.
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) formerly called the National Iranian Radio and Television is an Iranian media corporation which holds the monopoly of domestic radio and television services in Iran. It is also among the largest media organizations in the Asian and Pacific region, and a regular member of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. With 13,000 employees and branches in 20 countries worldwide, including France, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon, United Kingdom, the United States, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting offers both domestic and foreign radio and television services, broadcasting 12 domestic television channels, 4 international news television channels, six satellite television channels for international audiences, and 30 provincial television channel available countrywide and of which make use of local accents or dialects. IRIB provides twelve radio stations for domestic audiences and through the IRIB World Service thirty radio stations are available for foreign and international audiences. In addition, IRIB also publishes the Persian-language newspaper Jaam-e Jam.
The Lawsuit and Monopoly of IRIB
Last week, we got the news that Aparat’s apps namely, Aparat, Filimo and Aparat Kids were removed from the biggest Android market, Cafe Bazaar in Iran. The cause of this removal was the lawsuit filed by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) or National Iranian Radio and Television. According to the head of Intellectual Property and International Law of IRIB, Hamed Moeini, this lawsuit was filed a year ago and it has two main reasons behind it:
- Violating the intellectual property rights of IRIB.
- Failure to obtain the necessary permits for activities in mass multimedia in cyberspace from IRIB.
The CEO of Aparat who didn’t know the details of the lawsuit until the last minutes in the court of law gave some explanation to the judge and insured the judge that his lawyer soon would submit the necessary legal reasons and documentations. “The issue and details of the complaint raised in 12th Branch of Culture and Media Court is a judicial matter and not a media one,” Mohammad Javad Shakouri Moghadam said in response to the lawsuit.
Talking about infringement of intellectual property rights and the lack of the necessary permits, according to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the provisions of Article 2 as well as the provisions of the regulations on Organizing and Developing Digital Media and Cultural Activities, Aparat has the license of user based media according to these laws from the Information Technology & Digital Media Development Center apart from other licenses. Filimo also has the required VOD license from Ministry of Culture & Islamic Guidance. According to the regulations, if someone or some entity posts a video on Aparat which violates the intellectual or copyright law, Aparat is not responsible for that content and it is only responsible for removing that content by receiving a complaint. But According to Shakouri Moghadam the CEO, Aparat has not received any objections from IRIB regarding the use of their multimedia content in Aparat platform. Plus, since you should have an account to post a video on Aparat, the user is responsible for the uploaded video, Aparat is only responsible for removing that content if it receives a complaint regarding the infringement of intellectual property rights.
Overall, with no centralized legislative body making and enforcing the laws regarding these topics, these problems are going to pop up more often. Iran’s startup scene is on the rise and is getting more into people’s daily life each day. The issue with legislative bodies is causing more problems each day and startups are encountering more obstacles from these entities whether it’s e-commerce, VOD, Fintech or other sectors. The good news is that people want to use these services and it’s becoming a part of their lives. Maybe the ideal path is far ahead but from the experience, the path is getting more smooth each day.