Two Bollywood Film Producers Get Court To Block Tons Of Sites In India, Including Archive.org

from the street-sweeper-for-justice dept

How many innocents would you accept being caught up in an action designed to nab criminals? How many good people is it acceptable to throw into jail alongside the truly bad actors? Most people would agree that any action that penalizes the innocent in order to punish the guilty is a bad course, with only truly minimal amounts of collateral damage being acceptable. Now let’s port that over to internet sites and ask how many innocent websites is it acceptable to block in order to block sites that are actually engaged in undesirable behavior?

Well, for the legal system in India, that question has often been answered in a cavalier manner, with regular court orders to block innocent websites being doled out to battle both terrorism and at the request of copyright holders to stop infringement. It’s in the latter cases where things get really silly, with previous orders issued to block sites like GitHub and the Internet Archive. Well, it seems the Internet Archive endured this sort of thing again recently, as a court order at the request of two Bollywood film studios caught archive.org into its ISP blocking web.

Earlier this week (and again for no apparent reason), the world renowned Internet Archive was rendered inaccessible to millions of users in India. The platform, which is considered by many to be one of the Internet’s most valued resources, hosts more than 15 petabytes of data, a figure which grows on a daily basis. Yet despite numerous requests for information, none was forthcoming from authorities. Quoted by local news outlet Medianama, Chris Butler, Office Manager at the Internet Archive, said that their attempts to contact the Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) had proven fruitless.

Now, however, the mystery has been solved. The BBC says a local government agency provided a copy of a court order obtained by two Bollywood production companies who are attempting to slow down piracy of their films in India. Issued by a local judge, the sweeping order compels local ISPs to block access to 2,650 mainly file-sharing websites, including The Pirate Bay, RARBG, the revived KickassTorrents, and hundreds of other ‘usual suspects’. However, it also includes the URL for the Internet Archive, hence the problems with accessibility this week.

Let’s be clear about what this sort of thing represents: the punishment of the innocent in favor of an easy and lazy attempt to block copyright infringement. That’s not an overstatement. The continued use of court orders to block entire websites and the routine collateral damage are not exceptions, they are the rule. That they are allowed to continue to do this sort of damage even while the Indian government hand-waves away frantic requests for information from innocent site operators is as good a definition of whatever the opposite of justice is as I can think of.

Importantly, neither the court that issued the order or the two film companies requesting it, and ostensibly providing the list of sites to be blocked, are due any recompense for these actions. Perhaps most frustrating, the Internet Archive has clearly stated that not only does it have a method for copyright holders to request content takedowns, but it complied with those requests from these very same film studios.

“Is the Court aware of and did it consider the fact that the Internet Archive has a well-established and standard procedure for rights holders to submit take down requests and processes them expeditiously?” the platform said. “We find several instances of take down requests submitted for one of the plaintiffs, Red Chillies Entertainments, throughout the past year, each of which were processed and responded to promptly. After a preliminary review, we find no instance of our having been contacted by anyone at all about these films. Is there a specific claim that someone posted these films to archive.org? If so, we’d be eager to address it directly with the claimant.”

Now, archive.org was not the only innocent site blocked by this order. Weebly.com, along with at least one news site and the site for a French ISP also had their sites blocked. Still, this damage appears to be mostly met with indifferent shrugs by the Indian government and the film studios that issued this request.

So, for India, we have an answer to the question of how many innocent sites it’s willing to harm to combat copyright infringement. That answer, by our litmus test, is “too many.”

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: bbc

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Two Bollywood Film Producers Get Court To Block Tons Of Sites In India, Including Archive.org”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
16 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Now, archive.org was not the only innocent site blocked by this order. Weebly.com, along with at least one news site and the site for a French ISP also had their sites blocked.

A lot of the other listed sites would be "innocent" too, in that they’re just serving content provided by users… which in the case of torrents isn’t even copyrighted, but just metadata about something copyrighted.

Anonymous Coward says:

archive.org needs a .onion address

I wasn’t able to find a .onion address for archive.org. It would be a good idea, given that they claim to value reader privacy (they don’t store logs, and have fought an NSL). “Standard” practice would be to serve a list of relevant onion addresses via http at onion.archive.org.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You have a funny definition of “modern” and “backward”, given that this is largely down to rules that are trying to hold back progress in the name of protecting outdated business models.

But, if you’re talking about pushing the broken US copyright system on to other countries, it’s worth noting that Bollywood has long produced more content than Hollywood – and it hardly represents the whole of the Indian film industry.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

If “legitimate” cartel sites were ‘accidentally’ blocked by an overly broad court order they would be screaming & demanding compensation.
When they do it to others, they expect them just to accept it & deal with the fall out.

Perhaps it is time that Google & others start to honor block requests as written. I would love to see the paperwork between the arms of HBO screaming the entire domain is blocked while the other arm is claiming its a pirate site & doubling down on the claims.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: who cares

I think the problem may be people who are educated as you have been.

As to who cares, a lot of people care. Your dismissal is not going to have the effect you wish here. But take solace in the fact that plenty in the US and elsewhere share your lovely sentiments about the stone age buffoons who invented shit like 0, stunning civilizations, architecture, and who regularly provide the rest of the world with brilliant physicians and physicists. As for the many on the subcontinent who cannot be those things, yeah, screw the poor, it’s their own fault. But for government and business, not sure what you are getting at, since they act largely the same most everywhere else.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...