We recently reported that Internet Archive and its ‘Wayback Machine’ were being blocked by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) across the country. During the time, there was no clarity on why the website was blocked or even who issued the order to block that particular website. The digital library tried to reach the Department of Telecom, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology but all the attempts have been left unanswered.
The website displayed the error message ‘Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India. Please contact administrator for more information.’ when users tried to access the website. According to a blog post by Internet Archive, the non-profit organisation pointed out that two court orders from Madras High Court were the source of the block.
The interesting part here is that both the orders included ‘thousands of websites’ and Internet Archive was one of the blocked website for making ‘Lipstick Under my Burkha’, and ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ available. The post also points out that the ‘http://’ URL is blocked while people can still access the ‘https://’ URL, which we pointed out in our report. Internet Archive questioned the court ruling by pointing out that the digital library has a framework so that ‘rights holders’ can submit the requests for take down. It pointed out examples by 'Red Chillies Entertainments’.
It also pointed out that nobody got in touch with the organisation and the ‘claimants’ only pointed at ‘https://archive.org’, the entire domain, instead of any specific website. The post also stated that the organisation has seen reports from academics and scholars that this block is disrupting their work.
According to a report by Medianama about the court orders, both ‘Red Chillies Entertainment’ and ‘Prakash Jha Productions’ filed cases with the exact list of 2,650 URLs. The list comprised of all the ‘non-compliant websites’ that the production houses were looking to block. The report pointed out that both the orders were’ interim injunctions’ set for a week. The ban for ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ was set to lift on 8 August while the order for ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ was set to lift on 21 July this year. There is no update on whether the court has granted an extension to these injunctions.
This interim injunction is worrying because ISPs and websites are protected under Section 79 of the IT Act for any infringement that is done by the users.