Logo

Defender of your Digital Freedom

Home > Freedom of Speech > The Internet Archive is among 2650 websites blocked for copyright infringement
Blocked websites

The Internet Archive is among 2650 websites blocked for copyright infringement

Aug 12,2017 | 10:28 am

The Internet Archive – a non-profit initiative that has been archiving online content like web pages, books, text, audio, video, images, and software since 1996 – has become one of the latest casualties in the Indian movie industry’s crusade against online piracy. As of August 8, 2017, http://archive.org along with 2649 other URLs has been blocked from public access across the country pursuant to orders issued by the Madras High Court (available here and here). The orders were issued in connection with civil suits filed against 37 ISPs, 5 cable operators and 8 unknown defendants (impleaded as “Ashok Kumar” – the Indian equivalent of “John Doe”) by Red Chillies Entertainment and Prakash Jha Productions (respective producers of Jab Harry Met Sejal and Lipstick Under My Burkha), alleging copyright infringement of their works.

Users in some regions have reported being able to access the website still, and the “https” version of the site continues to be accessible for all at the time of writing this post, but most users trying to access the website are simply shown the message “Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India. Please contact administrator for more information.” Interestingly, the Internet Archive was reportedly blocked once before in late 2014/early 2015 as part of a larger group of websites for unknown reasons, but this block was subsequently reversed.

This instance of overbroad censorship is a disturbing development for many reasons, not the least important of which is that the Internet Archive, specially its web page archiving component – the Wayback Machine, has been a very useful tool in ensuring accountability amongst public officials and others. The Wayback Machine allows users to browse over 302 billion screenshots of web pages taken over the past two decades, enabling them to see what a web page looked like on a particular date and even to view content that may since have been altered or removed. Moreover, it is most unfortunate that Indian copyright law has lent itself to misuse by overzealous litigants who seek to block large portions of the Internet over alleged copyright infringements, and by courts that readily grant grotesquely disproportionate reliefs without necessarily taking the time to properly evaluate the legitimacy of claims. The Madras High Court in particular has reportedly become somewhat of a preferred jurisdiction to obtain such blocking orders due to the ease with which this can be done as compared to other states.

By blindly allowing the plaintiffs’ request to have a large number of URLs blocked over alleged copyright infringement, Indian citizens have effectively been denied access to a crucial Internet resource that infused an extent of accountability into public life. This heavily underscores the need to re-visit norms governing online censorship, and to hold the judiciary to a greater standard of accountability when entertaining suits such as the present one.

Representation sent to Arunchal Pradesh

A newspaper article dated 30.10.2020 published in Telegraph India titled ‘Arunachal Internet Bar to curb Cheating’ stated that Arunachal Pradesh government will be ...

Event – Creating Safe Spaces Online

SFLC.in in collaboration with Trust Law, Thompson Reuters Foundation is hosting a 2 day event on 'Creating Safe Spaces Online' on 21st-22nd ...

SFLC.in writes to the Criminal Reforms Committee

SFLC.in sent its recommendations to the Criminal Reforms Committee on 16th September 2020. Our recommendations covered criminal sanctions against free speech ...

Representation sent to Government of Rajasthan to publish orders regarding suspension of Internet services.

SFLC.in wrote to the Home Secretary, Government of Rajasthan as well the District Collectors of Udaipur, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh and Banswara ...

Letter to the Standing Committee on Information Technology on Content Moderation by Social Media Platforms

SFLC.in has written to the Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by Dr. Shashi Tharoor on the Content Moderation policies ...

Collective statement to urge the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to restore High-Speed internet.

SFLC.IN along with a coalition of non-profit organisations and civil society groups voice their concerns urging the Jammu and Kashmir ...

SFLC.in sent a representation to the IT standing committee

SFLC.in had written to all the members of the IT committee chaired by Dr. Shashi Tharoor on 8th June 2020 highlighting ...

Event – Reconciling State’s interests with a digital life

SFLC.in in collaboration with Live Law is hosting a panel to commemorate an entire year of communication block in The ...

SFLC.in wrote to the IT committee on issue of women saftey in Digital Spaces

SFLC.in wrote to the Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by Dr. Shashi Tharoor on the issue of women safety ...

Analysis of the recent app blocking

MEITY on 29th June 2020 blocked 59 apps using Section 69A of the Information Technology Act coupled with the Blocking Rules ...