SpicyIP is arguably the leading blog for experts on India's copyright system, but links to it disappeared from Google's search index following a fraudulent claim of copyright infringement filed by Saregama, India's oldest record label.
The label claimed that an expert report from 2010 on the history of a Bollywood song called "Apni To Jaise Taise" infringed on the copyright to the song. It did not.
Luckily for SpicyIP, they have no shortage of copyright experts who can argue their case with Google's takedown system, and they were reinstated.
However, this is a bad omen for the future of free expression in India, which is contemplating legislation similar to Europe's catastrophic Article 13, which would automate censorship of anything claimed as copyrighted, without any requirement that these claims be truthful or made in good faith.
Regardless of the form of notice-and-takedown, it is apparent that placing an obligation to police copyright infringement on intermediaries create perverse economic incentives on private parties like Google or YouTube to over-comply and take down legal content. This is not solely attributable to the intermediaries' practices themselves, but the policy and legal decisions which are created and are supposed to to strike a balance between access to knowledge and copyright protection in the digital age.
While we hope SaReGaMa has a stern word with its lawyers, it's funny and (perhaps on the balance) appropriate that this takedown notice came to a copyright law blog, where we can discuss and dissect such procedures. Yet, had it happened to a non-lawyer, or even someone who had ceased to take interest in their old blog, as it often does, it would result in the permanent removal of public information from an index which serves as the gateway to the internet, due to the 'mistakes' of private parties whose interests do not coincide with public access. What does this mean for the future of access to knowledge? These are hard questions which Indian lawyers and policy makers need to grapple with, particularly when we have senseless obligations like the mechanism for 'automated takedown of unlawful content' being proposed for intermediaries by the Ministry of IT
Record Label Targets Copyright Experts With "Bogus" Takedown Request [Ernesto/Torrentfreak]