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How AR Rahman’s Maa Tujhe Salaam Got IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s Twitter Account Locked

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (PTI/File)

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (PTI/File)

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry on behalf of Sony Music Entertainment flagged a copyright violation complaint that ended up denying the minister access to Twitter for around an hour.

On June 25, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s account was locked for around an hour over copyright violation.

Miffed, the minister had said: “Something highly peculiar happened today. Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account."

However, information available on Lumen Database reveals that it was one of music composer AR Rahman’s iconic soundtrack that got his Twitter account locked, leading to a fresh spat between the Government of India and Twitter over adherence to the country’s new IT rules.

Accusing Twitter of pretending to be a paragon of free speech but running its own agenda on the sly, Prasad said that if Twitter complies with the new social media intermediary rules, it would no longer be allowed to arbitrarily deny access to an individual’s account.

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He pointed out that “Twitter’s actions were in gross violation of Rule 4(8) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 where they failed to provide me any prior notice before denying me access to my own account.”

Prasad may be right about not being intimated about the action that Twitter took, but according to information on Lumen Database, which has been reviewed by Moneycontrol, the social media platform’s action was definitely not arbitrary.

Turns out, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry on behalf of Sony Music Entertainment had flagged a copyright violation complaint for AR Rahman’s Maa Tujhe Salaam on May 24, 2021 under the Digital Millennium Copy Act (DMCA) of the US, which protects copyrighted content on all digital mediums.

Twitter received the complaint on June 25 and took action, leading to the Union IT minister’s account getting locked for an hour.

Going by the complaint available on Lumen Database, the tweet falls under the category music and the relevant link was tagged as “allegedly infringing URL", which was in violation of Twitter’s copyright policy.

The referenced tweet currently reads, “This Tweet from @rsprasad has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.”

The tweet dates back to 2017.

In a statement to Moneycontrol, a Twitter spokesperson said, “We can confirm that the honourable minister’s account access was temporarily restricted due to a DMCA notice only and the referenced tweet has been withheld. Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorised representatives.”

However, the company did not offer further clarification on the details of the request.

Meanwhile, Aprameya Radhakrishna, CEO & co-founder, Koo, India’s own microblogging platform, has said, “Giving a user complete context of any claimed violation and an intimation of the exact violation is important. The user should also be able to contest or accept the claimed violation. Direct action of suspension without the above makes it seem like a social media platform is taking the final judgment call and is not being an intermediary."

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first published:June 26, 2021, 08:39 IST