The show will go on: YouTube plays on December 16 gang-rape documentary

  • Siladitya Ray, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 05, 2015 19:20 IST

The government is unlikely to be able to fully keep the controversial documentary on the December 16 gang-rape out of reach for Indian users for long, as the video spread far and wide on the internet within hours of its telecast in Britain.

India's Daughter, a BBC-produced documentary that looks back at the case and features controversial interviews of one of the convicts and the defence lawyers, has been criticised by politicians for painting a bad image of the country and being disrespectful to women.

One of the uploads of the documentary raked up 4,500 likes and generated significant conversation with 1,200 comments. There are several other uploads of the nearly 1-hour long documentary, besides shorter excerpts.

A Delhi court heeded a police request to pass an injunction against the documentary's broadcast on Wednesday, and cases under the IT act and laws for women's safety have been filed. Soon after, BBC announced it would air the video in advance and did so on Thursday morning.

"While we believe that access to information is a foundation of a free society and that services like YouTube help people express themselves and share different points of view, we continue to remove content that is illegal or violates our community guidelines once notified", a Google spokesperson said.

The statement suggests YouTube would take down videos only if complaints are received on particular uploads. "Blocking YouTube altogether would be a disproportionate response that would not hold up in court", said Alok Prasanna, a Supreme Court lawyer who writes in cyber laws. He added that the government can ask internet service providers to block only specific links.

But that too did not appear to be in force till at least as of 5:30pm, when the most-viewed upload remained live, raking up more views.

The BCC released a statement on the YouTube videos, saying it never posted the film on the video sharing website. “The BBC has only broadcast the documentary, and made it available, in the UK. We have not uploaded it to YouTube. The independent production company which made the film is currently taking steps to remove illegal uploads,” the BBC said.

Besides Youtube, the video is also available on peer-to-peer torrent networks, which are virtually impossible for the Indian government to crack down on.

The documentary is also available in BBC's iPlayer, though not in India. But workarounds, such as using network proxies, can enable users to watch it on the official website as well.

"There is no law barring proxies and virtual private networks, so a user watching the video on iPlayer will not be held culpable", Prasanna added.

Watching the documentary is not illegal, according to the injunction.

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