Indian ISP Penalized For 'Overblocking' In Obeying Court Order To Try To Stop Infringement

from the damned-if-you-do... dept

We've written a couple of times about Indian ISPs overblocking websites in response to vague court orders to try to prevent copyright infringement of a particular film. The responses seemed like massive overkill, such as blocking complete access to certain sites -- including sites like Vimeo -- that have perfectly legitimate reasons for existing. It seems that this overkill may be coming back to haunt some ISPs. Airtel has now been penalized by a Consumer Forum in India for going too far with its blocks. Airtel was ordered to pay one of its customers 20,000 rupees (or about $360) for "deficiency in Internet service, thereby causing mental anguish to the complaintant."

The order said that Airtel misinterpreted the original court order, and couldn't justify its actions by hiding behind it.
“By misinterpreting the Madras High Court order, Airtel blocked entire websites. It is needless to say that the company’s actions amount to deficiency in service as well as unfair trade practice,” said the forum.
Of course, the article goes on to note that there has been some confusion over what was originally asked to be blocked. The anti-piracy company, Copyright Labs, who asked for the block order, claimed that it had only asked for specific infringing URLs to be blocked, but a freedom of information request revealed that it had actually asked for blocking of entire websites.

All in all, this highlights some of the many problems that occur when you give copyright holders the power to order outright censorship. It's good to see some push-back. If other customers in India file similar complaints, perhaps ISPs will think twice before engaging in widespread censorship.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 7:50am

    Mostly, it goes to highlight a messy legal system and a country that can't even manage the basics for it's citizens.

    But nice spin anyway!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    The ant-piracy coimpany, Copyright Labs

    Two typos for the price of one!

    "ant-piracy"

    "coimpany"

     

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  3.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    What spin? The poor ISP blocks what they think is reasonable due to a court order, and then they get their hand slapped for blocking too much. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

    Because ya know, all of the US's laws are clearly spelled out and not open to interpretation. /s

     

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  4.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re:

    It's indefensible, so the ACs have to try and deflect blame elsewhere and pretend that it's all really just Techdirt's fault for writing about it. Much easier than addressing the points raised or to admit that there are problems with the tactics the industry are trying to use to "protect" themselves.

     

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  5.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, that damn hole in the ozone...Techdirt's fault.

     

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  6.  
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    Glen, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:06am

    'this highlights some of the many problems that occur when you give copyright holders the power to order outright censorship'

    it shows how (being kind here) uninformed the courts and specifically, judges are when it comes to dealing with copyright and supposed infringement. it also shows for the 10 millionth time what a complete bunch of lying arseholes the various entertainment industries are, regardless of in which country and what lengths they will go to to achieve their overall aim of total control of the Internet. when they can say, through the lies and bribes they put out, who can up what to the internet and who then can access it and download it, then they will be happy. when governments can prevent all people from doing anything on the 'net except booking holidays, paying bills, checking bank accounts, buying items or services (whilst still paying store prices so tax levels remain high!) and reading/sending e-mails (that are constantly read in case of terrorist or subversive activities!), then they will be happy! and all in order to say 'fuck the people'! we're in charge!

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:08am

    Re:

    Frankly I'm rather concerned about formic banditry on the high seas. Ant piracy is no joking matter.

     

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  9.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:16am

    I can understand it

    Even if I don't agree with it.

    ISPs and tech companies in general are shit scared of the legal power of the entertainment industry who can sue a medium sized ISP out of existence.

    The copyright trolls are the ones who need to be more heavily penalised as they are the reasons the ISPs take such action.

     

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  10.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:27am

    Yeah but..

    The honey badger don't give a shit

     

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  11.  
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    Niall (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re:

    Maybe the 'buggers' are coming? Time for Ender's Game!

     

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  12.  
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    Nick (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Wait, so the ISP followed the order, claiming they were told to block an entire site. They were given a penalty for doing so. When the copyright organization was asked what it had requested, it had lied and said it HADN'T asked for the entire site?

    And we're angry at the ISP over this? They were bullied, lied to, and now blamed for something they were forced into.

    Thank god we (and India) have such clear-cut laws. /sarcasm

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:35am

    Re: I can understand it

    this. There is currently no penalty to false claims, so there is no incentive not to use the cluster-bomb approach.

    Perhaps every false claim should be punished as severely as any rightful ones.

    For places where notices result in internet disconnects, false claims should result in the revocation of the right to claim infringement. Yes that is unreasonable but so is the disconnect in the first place.

    For places where you 'just' get damages awarded, false claims should have the same damages awarded to the defendant.

     

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  14. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "It's indefensible, so the ACs have to try and deflect blame elsewhere and pretend that it's all really just Techdirt's fault for writing about it"

    It's amazing how far you live from reality. Do you take a bus or use a taxi to visit reality from time to time?

    My point is that the Indian justice system isn't really one at all, allowing things like the caste system to remain intact. In a country that cannot even provide the basics for many of it's citizens, this sort of legal wrangling is a "let them eat cake" sort of thing.

    It's also high end spin, attempting to make it look like what is a pretty backwards and disconnected society is a model for the rest of the world. It's classic.

    Anyway, just remember to tip the taxi driver, otherwise next time he may just drive you to crazy instead.

     

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  15.  
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    martyburns (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Anyway, just remember to tip the taxi driver, otherwise next time he may just drive you to crazy instead.

    You give me a free ride there every time I read one of your idiotic rants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Richard (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    My point is that the Indian justice system isn't really one at all, allowing things like the caste system to remain intact. In a country that cannot even provide the basics for many of it's citizens, this sort of legal wrangling is a "let them eat cake" sort of thing.

    Sounds just like the US legal system to me.

    A country that allowed the legalised racism until comparatively recently.

    A country that has perpetrated all kinds of legal abuses - including getting the wrong result inb its presidential election.

    A country where people have to sell their assets to obtain life saving medical treatment.

    A country where the visible poverty shocked a friend of mine who grew up in the (much reviled) Eastern block.

    It's also high end spin, attempting to make it look like what is a pretty backwards and disconnected society is a model for the rest of the world.

    Yup - the US again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ooo, burn. Was that insult in inventory, or did your momma write it for you?

    (see, I can do it to... now go away).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:55am

    Re:

    @ #1

    so what is the difference between India and any other entertainment industry in any other country? they all lie like pigs in shit and will continue to do so until they have totally fucked up the Internet. if they got control of it, these industries couldn't handle it anyway! they think that after the screw up, people would go flocking back to buying the silly, 'indestructible pieces of plastic that actually last 6 months provided they are only used once'. get real for Christ's sake!

     

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  19.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 8:56am

    Re:

    So you must believe the same of the US, since overblocking occurs here too. At least in India, there appears to be some sort of feasible recourse. I doubt that such a lawsuit would go very far here. So, India: 1, US: 0

     

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  20.  
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    Beta (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 9:00am

    Re:

    I'm not sure why you're saying "we" are mad at the ISP. I don't see any condemnation of the ISP here over this, but rather condemnation of the process that led to this.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: I can understand it

    No chance - bob would whine that somehow Google paid for those punishments.

     

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  23.  
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    Beta (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 9:12am

    basic economics

    The alleged copyright holder loses nothing by making complaints, and expects to gain, (and the intermediary, Chennai-based Copyright Labs, has a great deal to gain) and therefore will make inflated complaints.

    The Madras High Court has nothing much to gain or lose either way (except bribes, which are hidden), and is not restrained by technical competence, so the extent of the court orders will be effectively random.

    The users have nothing to lose and (apparently) much to gain by complaining, so they will complain.

    The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (is "redressal" a word?) has nothing to lose and maybe prestige to gain by punishing the ISP, so it will punish the ISP.

    The ISP is pinched between two authorities who stand to lose nothing if they squeeze the ISP right out of business. Just trying to find the safe ground between them (while it exists) takes considerable effort.

    I predict that the price of internet access will rise.

     

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  24.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 9:25am

    Reminds me of ICE and Operation our Sites. Nobody got punished for overblocking there.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    Subnets

    Just say you block at the subnet level. If the court orders a site blocked, then that whole subnet goes down. Blame the court.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Nick (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re:

    The final paragraph of the article:

    "If other customers in India file similar complaints, perhaps ISPs will think twice before engaging in widespread censorship."

    This seemed to me to criticize the ISP for willingly engaging in censorship, rather than just criticizing the process that forced the ISP into this position.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, got it. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Nothing to see here, folks. India is just a stupid country with stupid laws run by stupidheads. If you think the -AA's will be abusive if they're granted power to censor the internet, then you're a nutjob who lives in some kind of mental fairyland. Oh and Failed attempt at being funny by making stupid insults and Butthurt whiner response when I get insulted back

     

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  29.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 14th, 2012 @ 10:29am

    This is why we desperately need SOPA / ACTA / etc

    Yes, this is an unfortunate problem.

    Problems like this don't scale well. They only happen if everything goes just right. A court has to force you to block content. Then someone has to sue you for blocking content.

    SOPA would solve the scalability problems. Instead of being rare; outcomes like this could have become more commonplace under SOPA. Now aren't you sorry SOPA was defeated?

     

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  30. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, talk about stupid. Why not take it to the extreme? Why not get racist about it, considering I didn't go there?

    If you don't know, India is a country with plenty of educated people, plenty of the smartest people in the world, but a legal system that is unjust, a caste system that dooms children from birth to be nearly human garbage, and all but stops people from moving up in the world - and the justice system supports and rules to maintain that system at every turn.

    I don't expect most Techdirt readers to be bothered with context - it's all about pushing an agenda with any scrap of positive news.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I was just make blanket generalizations about a race of people, their culture, and their government. I wasn't being racist!

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2012 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You come in trying to hand-wave an article away by throwing insulting generalizations about another country, then defend your comments by calling that country "backwards", then cap it off by trying to deflect criticism of your rants with insults.

    It's not like the caste system has jack shit to do with the ISP censorsip case being discussed. I'd say you're the one the agenda.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 1:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "It's amazing how far you live from reality. Do you take a bus or use a taxi to visit reality from time to time?"

    Is this where you run out of ideas and try to use the sarcastic comments I've made against you in the past against me? Because it's not working.

    "My point is that the Indian justice system isn't really one at all, allowing things like the caste system to remain intact."

    The US system isn't much of one at all, allowing things like the death penalty, felony incarceration for possession of a plant, no knock warrants that often result in innocents being killed, and so on. But, you don't see me bring those aspects up in copyright and similar cases. I wonder why that is? Maybe because I'm capable of addressing more than one aspect of reality at a time?

    "It's also high end spin, attempting to make it look like what is a pretty backwards and disconnected society is a model for the rest of the world."

    So, you're not only a moron incapable of making an adult argument, but a xenophobic bigot to boot. Classy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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