Indian Court Orders 104 Sites Censored Based On The Say So Of The Indian Music Industry

19 Mar

Torrentfreak notes the interesting timing on this one. Just as MPAA boss Chris Dodd was in India talking up the importance of stricter copyright laws (like SOPA), an Indian court ordered a SOPA-like block of 104 sites that were declared as “dedicated to infringement” by the Indian Music Industry (IMI). What’s interesting is that as you look down the list of blocked sites, they include many that appear to focus on movies, not music — so it’s not clear why IMI gets to decide what’s infringing and what’s not.

Reading some of the details, it’s pretty clear that the sites in question were not given a chance to present their side in court. In fact, it appears that even the IMI bosses admit that theyhaven’t yet proved that all of those sites are infringing:

Taking the sites to court is not humanly feasible: when we went after one site, we got the impression that the owner was in the US, based out of the Bahamas, and it was very difficult to get him to respond. Our person has to pose as an advertiser before the owner came on an email, and we eventually found that it was a young kid in Rajkot, and the entire process took six months. Going after 104 sites – can you imagine the effort, the time and the money spent in chasing this? The better route is to establish comprehensively that each ofthese 104 sites is pirating content, and we’re doing that – as a body and not a company – and it’s easier to interact with the ISP now.

In other words, shoot first, deal with the fallout of incorrect censorship later.

Not surprisingly, the head of the IFPI (the international RIAA) cheered on this result:

“This decision is a victory for the rule of law online and a blow to those illegal businesses that want to build revenues by violating the rights of others,” said IFPI CEO Frances Moore in a statement. 

But in a clear signal that for the music and movie industries even the toughest of anti-piracy measures are never enough, Moore says that current developments are a good start.

“The court ruled that blocking is a proportionate and effective way to tackle website piracy,” Moore noted, adding that the Indian government should now “build on this progress” by advancing further legislation to tackle digital piracy.

The situation here seems extreme and disproportionate. Not only have the serious problems with DNS and IP blocking been described concerning internet security, but it’s pretty clear that efforts like this don’t work. There are already reports of sites from the list reappearing under different domain names, and all the court order is doing is spreading the game of whac-a-mole. Amusingly, the same Indian music exec who made the claim above about how it’s impossible to actually track down these sites, later (in the same interview) admits he doesn’t want to shut down these sites, because they have a “passion for music” and he’d like to work out deals with them. Of course, getting a court order to block access to their existing sites is a funny way to say “hey, I’d like to work with you.”

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