Indian ISP Blocks A Bunch Of Websites To Try To Prevent File Sharing Of A Single Movie

from the overblocking dept

TorrentFreak has the story of an Indian court seemingly having no problems issuing widespread ISP blockades in response to a request from movie studio Reliance Entertainment. The reasoning is that Reliance is hoping to prevent the file sharing of its latest movie. But rather than narrowly targeting the file sharing of that movie (or of other Reliance properties), the court ordered complete blocking of a variety of websites including Megaupload and BTJunkie. The Times of India, which wrote about this as well, notes that the whole thing is quite "strange" to cyberlaw experts.

Beyond just the oddity of massive overblocking, the blockades themselves present a rather bizarre message:
Yes. It appears to claim that the block page itself is covered by Reliance Entertainment's copyright. At the very least this implies that the court simply gave Reliance the right to craft the blocked page itself which is quite incredible when you think about it.

Other experts quoted in the Times of India article suggest that perhaps Reliance is misinterpreting a court order, because such broad blocking is not reasonable, nor permitted under the law. As the article says it's "debatable" if a site can be held responsible for the actions of users (especially when the actions are predicted future actions!).
"Yes, there is a John Doe order. But Reliance Communications seems to have misinterpreted it. If the judge, who gave the order, comes to know about how it has been used, I am sure he will disagree. So far, there is no evidence that members at the blocked file-hosting websites had indulged in piracy of Don 2. It's purely speculative. It is like shutting down a public library just because some one may go there and leave a book about bomb making," he said.

Prakash added that even if there was piracy of Don 2 on the said websites, proper procedures should have been followed to block them. "Blocking websites at ISP level is arbitrary and illegal. According to the IT rules in India, only DIT is empowered to issue orders on blocking of a website. Not even Department of Telecom, which looks after the affairs of ISPs, can order blocking of websites without involving DIT," he said.
The ISP doing the blocking is Reliance Communications, which appears to have the same parent company as Reliance Entertainment (shocking, I know), says that the blocking is perfectly legal, because it "has to adhere to any copyright infringement notices and court orders." Of course, it's still not entirely clear what the court actually ordered.

Either way, those in India who use these services for legitimate purposes are up in arms. TorrentFreak quotes Gaurav Shukla, who runs an Android news site and makes use of file lockers for legitimate purposes, but who's now blocked from doing so.
"Since Friday morning I can't access any file-hosting websites. Not all web users are pirates. We share legitimate files through websites like Megaupload and Filesonic."
Once again it seems like in the desperate attempt to block any and all infringement, you get significant collateral damage. Oh, and apparently the block hasn't worked... as a DVD screener copy of the film was ripped and is being widely shared online.

Filed Under: blocking, copyright, india, movies
Companies: megaupload, reliance communications, reliance entertainment

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  1. identicon
    Anand, 29 Dec 2011 @ 9:33am

    Not the complete story

    Not all ISPs have been blocking torrent sites. Reliance is in the business of both broadband as well as movies (besides host of other things). This blockade has only affected Reliance broadband customers. I'm in India on an Airtel connection and have no problem whatsoever with any site.

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