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Indian Government’s Use of Copyright Infringement Claims as a Form of Censorship is Harmful, Says ITIF

January 25, 2023

WASHINGTON—In response to the Indian government’s takedown requests concerning the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question,” the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation issued the following statement from Senior Policy Analyst Jaci McDole:

Copyright does not give governments censorship rights. Copyright exists to enable expression. It provides rightsholders with assurances and controls over their works, and rightsholders alone can enforce their copyrights.

The Indian government asked YouTube and Twitter to remove videos and tweets related to a documentary focused on Gujarat religious riots in 2002. Citing restricted broadcast of the work within India, government officials assert the takedown requests are for violations of intellectual property rights. However, the government openly criticized the documentary as a “propaganda piece,” the BBC did not initiate these requests, and the takedown notices include several commentary posts not disseminating the protected work.

The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement requires signatory nations to include fair use exceptions in their respective copyright laws. Indeed, Section 52 of India’s copyright act explicitly states acts of criticism, review, or reporting current events and affairs shall not constitute copyright infringement. Utilizing copyright infringement claims as a form of censorship is harmful and wholly unacceptable.


The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.

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