Statement and Questions Regarding an Indian Court’s Order to Block archive.org

After multiple attempts to contact the relevant authorities in the Indian government regarding the recent blocking of archive.org in that country, the Internet Archive received a response early this morning indicating that two court orders (here and here) were the source of the block. The orders identify a list of thousands of websites to be blocked for allegedly making available two separate films, “Lipstick Under my Burkha” and “Jab Harry Met Sejal”. Both orders come from the same judge of the High Court of Madras (civil jurisdiction). According to many reports, http://archive.org is blocked, but https is not.

Even beyond the fundamental and major problems with preemptively blocking a site for users’ submissions and content of which it is unaware, there are serious issues with these orders. We would like to know the following:

1. 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? 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.

2. 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.

3. Archive.org is included along with thousands of other websites in a list (entitled “Non-Compliant Sites”) to block for allegedly making available the two films of concern. The only URL the list identifies pertaining to us is “https://archive.org”. There are no specific URLs for alleged locations of films on the site, only the full domain. Was there any attempt to exercise any level of review or specificity beyond “archive.org”?

All in all, this is a very worrying development and is part of a harmful pattern of governments increasingly taking web content (and in many cases entire sites) offline in unpredictable and excessive ways. We have seen reports from scholars and academics that this block has disrupted their work. We hope full access to archive.org will be restored quickly.

UPDATE: the Indian news site MediaNama has analysis of the court orders and their legality here. That article also notes that the periods that the orders set for the blocks have both expired (the later one was to last through August 8). It’s unclear if it’s been lifted or is in the process of being lifted. We hope so and have inquired with the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

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16 Responses to Statement and Questions Regarding an Indian Court’s Order to Block archive.org

  1. Careful Reader says:

    The list also includes wn.com (a large news index, founded in 1995) and weebly.com (the well-known free web hosting company). It may be worth asking them to contact the Indian authorities as well.

  2. Ken William says:

    I noticed that blocking these sites would affect the performance of many parties, so the government should carefully review the content on these sites before blocking them.

  3. Ravi says:

    Only a (bunch of) fool(s) can and will block entire site like Archive.org!

  4. small noodle says:

    Archive.org is still blocked for 600 million internet users in China!

    https://explorer.ooni.torproject.org/website/archive.org

  5. interplanetary says:

    Have you thought about moving the website and all its contents, including the WayBack archives, to the IPFS? You would never have to worry about blocks like these again. Just sayin’…

    https://ipfs.io

  6. NOT HARRY NOT SEJAL says:

    It has been lifted, as I can access the site now.

    The reason the ban was affected in the first place is that the plaitiff in the said matter, “Red Chillies Entertainment” had listed archive.org among its list of whbsites who are “infringing by copying, recording, reproducing, or allowing camcording or allowing others to transmit, communicate ormake available or distributing or duplicating or displaying or releasing or showing or uploading or downloading or exhibiting or playing and/ or in any manner’ whatsoever from communicating the said film and said Work without a proper license from the applicants ·or in any other manner which
    would violate/infringe the applicant’s copyrighted cinematographic film “Jab Harry
    Met Sejal”

    First of all without going into the merits of the judgement, the movie is a horrible excuse for a movie and for them to obtain a restraining order of this kind is nothing but sheer misuse of the process of law.

    Next, by listing archive.org among in its schedule as one of the websites which promotes “piracy”, they are defaming the reputation of archive.org which by Indian law is both a criminal and a tort.

    I request you to fight this fight and file charges for this nonsensical misrepresentation and defamation against Red Chillies entertainment.

  7. Văn says:

    Visitors from India can view media from archive?

  8. jipu chy says:

    some bussiness minded people want this. i hate these base people

  9. Jipu Chowdhury says:

    Such a great website like archive.org that has been expanding reading access to many rare and educational books must not be hindered by any foul accusation by foul profit seekers. They should be accused of defamation and tort.

  10. Kamakshi says:

    I didn’t know about this ban. I am using your site actively.

  11. Manasa says:

    Could someone please tell me how to access the Archive now? I am unable to do so.

  12. Such a shame to penalize so many people over a few measly movies – the educational resources available here is unreal. Governments should be promoting greater access, not denying the people access to learning.

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