How an AR Rahman song got IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad blocked from Twitter
Twitter on Friday blocked Union information technology (IT) minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's account for nearly an hour over alleged violations of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) amid the social media network's deteriorating ties with the central government in the context of the new IT rules in the country. However, the exact reason behind the microblogging website briefly denying the Union minister his account may seem incredulous to many: a 2017 tweet related to music director AR Rahman's famous song 'Maa Tujhe Salaam', which was found in violation of Twitter's copyright policy.
The DMCA notice, related to AR Rahman's song 'Maa Tujhe Salaam', was sent by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) on behalf of Sony Music Entertainment back on May 24, according to the Lumen database. It was only received by Twitter on June 25, following which the social media platform took action, as per the document.
Lumen database is an independent research project studying cease and desist letters concerning online content, and requests received by Twitter for withholding content are published on its site.
The 2017 tweet, posted from Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's official handle, consisted of a tribute video to the Indian Army, where the AR Rahman's song was used in the background. It was posted on the anniversary of the 1971 war victory, said people familiar with the development.
Twitter briefly blocking Ravi Shankar Prasad's account was the first instance of a Union minister being blocked from a social media network in India. The platform later restored access to the account and said that the action was taken on the basis of a DMCA notice and that 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," it said.
Under the DMCA copyright, owners can notify Twitter claiming that a user has infringed their copyrighted works.
However, the IT minister condemned the incident and said that Twitter was only displaying its own brazen arbitrariness and running its "own agenda". The ministry claimed that Twitter is only taking these measures because the government has been asking it to strictly comply with the country's new IT rules.
Earlier this month, Twitter lost its intermediary status in India -- meaning the social media network can directly be sued under the country's laws for posts on the platform -- for refusing to comply with the IT rules. According to Ravi Shankar Prasad, the government calling out Twitter's act has "clearly ruffled its feathers".
(With inputs from PTI)