Update: The Indian Music Industry claims to have court orders that allow the blocking of 104 other sites. Please see:
- Indian Music Industry Gets Court Orders For Blocking 104 Music Sites
- List of 104 Music Sites That The Indian Music Industry Wants Blocked
Feb 17th, 2012: Access to music sharing site Songs.pk has been banned in India, following a petition in the Calcutta High Court by Indian music industry bodies Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and Indian Music Industry (IMI), and music label Sagarika Music Pvt Ltd, according to a reportin Jagran Post. According to a report by Telecom Talk, the Court has passed an Injunction order, asking all ISPs to block access to the website through methods such as DNS name blocking, IP address blocking via routers, and DPI based URL blocking.
The petitioners had sought the now familiar route of blocking access to the site from within India, naming ISPs like Dishnet Wireless Ltd, Reliance Wimax Ltd, Hathway Cable & Datacom Pvt Ltd, Hughes Communications Ltd India, Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd, Reliance Communications Infrastructure Ltd, Wipro Ltd, Sify Technologies Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India Ltd, and BG Broadband India Pvt Ltd in the petition.
We do not have access to the petition, however, the orders passed by the Calcutta Court on 27th January and 6th February do not mention a particular website, and order the ISPs to provide the address of the website owner/operator. The order also states that only the website mentioned in the petition should be banned. We’re awaiting a copy of that petition, and will update.
A few things to note:
- Site still works: We are able to access the site on an Airtel Broadband and BSNL, at the time of writing this post. The implementation of blocks are typically not pervasive, and we’ve seen instances of sites being blocked across some ISPs, and not across others. If you’re unable to access songs.pk, do tell us in the comments, and post a screenshot
- Precedence setting: While the ban could set a precedent in India putting the onus on intermediaries for blocking websites allegedly offering pirated content, it also means that more sites could be blocked. Last year, Reliance BIG Pictures got a John Doe order leading to ISPs banning all file sharing sites for a specific period of time, which also resulted in the sites getting blocked for users who use them for sharing documents, in a legal manner. That first order, for the movie Singham, led to many more such John Doe orders. This case could set a precedence against pirated music sites
- Two sides: there have been instances of legitimate filesharing sites also being blocked, so there are two sides to this issue: when generic filesharing sites are taken down, in which case we think the block is unjustified (the Reliance Big Pictures case being a case in point), and the justifiable case of pureplay piracy sites like songs.pk being taken down.