Art and Indian Copyright Law: A Statutory Reading

A look at how the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, as amended in 2012, interacts with art (other than films and sound recordings), and, in particular, with Indian art. The first part of this text comprises a feminist and post-colonial reading of the Indian copyright statute while later parts focus on interpreting the provisions of the statute in relation to art.

21 September 2016

The Doctrine of Auto-Block (Note)

The Doctrine of Autoblock was introduced to Indian law by the Supreme Court in WP(C)341/2008 on 19/09/16. The intention of the order in which it found mention appeared to be to block viewer access to foetal sex determination ads. Unfortunately, the so-called doctrine was not explicitly restricted thereto, and it remains to be seen how it will be applied in future. 

The doctrine appears to require the online search providers at which the order it appears in is directed to act proactively instead of responsively as the 2011 Intermediary Guidelines contemplate; this has the potential to change the structure of intermediary liability and the 'safe harbour' extended to intermediaries. Pertinently, the order does not appear to be directed at the online search providers in their capacity as publishers of illegal ads which it is conceivable that they could be: it appears to be directed at them as intermediaries.

Further, the mechanism through which auto blocks are intended to function involve not displaying content which is flagged by certain predetermined words and expressions. As such, the blocks do not consider the context in which the specified words and expressions may be used, and it is likely that they will not only block illegal content but also legitimate content which includes mere mention of content intended to be blocked.

(Personally, while I'm sympathetic to illegal content of the nature contemplated by the order being blocked, the structure of the block appears to be too wide not to raise concerns.)

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