Internet Archive Blocked in 2,650 Site Anti-Piracy Sweep

        • By Andy
        • on August 10, 2017

https://torrentfreak.com/internet-archive-blocked-in-2650-site-anti-piracy-sweep-170810/

The Internet Archive became unavailable to millions of users in India this 
week. A government agency, which passed a copy of a court order to the BBC, has 
now confirmed a piracy-related blockade. The injunction, which lists 2,650 
sites, was issued following an application from Bollywood. In addition to 
Archive.org, it contains several domains that should not be there, including 
website hosting service Weebly.

Reports of sites becoming mysteriously inaccessible in India have been a 
regular occurance over the past several years. In many cases, sites simply stop 
functioning, leaving users wondering whether sites are actually down or whether 
there’s a technical issue.

Due to their increasing prevalence, fingers are often pointed at so-called 
‘John Doe’ orders, which are handed down by the court to prevent Internet 
piracy. Often sweeping in nature (and in some cases pre-emptive rather than 
preventative), these injunctions have been known to block access to both 
file-sharing platforms and innocent bystanders.

Earlier this week (and again for no apparent reason), the world renowned 
Internet Archive was rendered inaccessible to millions of users in India. The 
platform, which is considered by many to be one of the Internet’s most valued 
resources, hosts more than 15 petabytes of data, a figure which grows on a 
daily basis. Yet despite numerous requests for information, none was 
forthcoming from authorities.

The ‘blocked’ message seen by users accessing Archive.org
Quoted by local news outlet Medianama, Chris Butler, Office Manager at the 
Internet Archive, said that their attempts to contact the Indian Department of 
Telecom (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology 
(Meity) had proven fruitless.

Noting that site had previously been blocked in India, Butler said they were no 
clearer on the reasons why the same kind of action had seemingly been taken 
this week.

“We have no information about why a block would have been implemented,” he 
said. “Obviously, we are disappointed and concerned by this situation and are 
very eager to understand why it’s happening and see full access restored to 
archive.org.”

Now, however, the mystery has been solved. The BBC says a local government 
agency provided a copy of a court order obtained by two Bollywood production 
companies who are attempting to slow down piracy of their films in India.

Issued by a local judge, the sweeping order compels local ISPs to block access 
to 2,650 mainly file-sharing websites, including The Pirate Bay, RARBG, the 
revived KickassTorrents, and hundreds of other ‘usual suspects’. However, it 
also includes the URL for the Internet Archive, hence the problems with 
accessibility this week.

The injunction, which appears to be another John Doe order as previously 
suspected, was granted by the High Court of the Judicature at Madras on August 
2, 2017. Two film productions companies – Prakash Jah Productions and Red 
Chillies Entertainment – obtained the order to protect their films Lipstick 
Under My Burkha and Jab Harry Met Sejal.

While India-based visitors to blocked resources are often greeted with a 
message saying that domains have been blocked at the orders of the Department 
of Telecommunications, these pages never give a reason why.

This always leads to confusion, with news outlets having to pressure local 
government agencies to discover the reason behind the blockades. In the 
interests of transparency, providing a link to a copy of a relevant court order 
would probably benefit all involved.

A few hours ago, the Internet Archive published a statement questioning the 
process undertaken before the court order was handed down.

“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?” the platform said.

“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.

“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.”

But while the Internet Archive appears to be the highest profile collateral 
damage following the ISP blocks, it isn’t the only victim. Now that the court 
orders have become available (1,2), it’s clear that other non-pirate entities 
have also been affected including news site WN.com, website hosting service 
Weebly, and French ISP Free.fr.

Also, in a sign that sites aren’t being checked to see if they host the movies 
in question, one of the orders demands that former torrent index BitSnoop is 
blocked. The site shut down earlier this year. The same is true for Shaanig.org.

This is not the first time that the Internet Archive has been blocked in India. 
In 2014/2015, Archive.org was rendered inaccessible after it was accused of 
hosting extremist material. In common with Google, the site copies and stores 
huge amounts of data, much of it in automated processes. This can leave it 
exposed to these kinds of accusations.
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