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Why Twitter Denied Union Minister RS Prasad Access to His Account

The Quint checked the Lumen Database to understand why RS Prasad was denied access to his Twitter account.

Updated
Tech and Auto
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>A DMCA takedown is sent when a copyright owner believes someone has posted an infringement and they want it removed.</p></div>
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Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday, 25 June, said that Twitter denied him access to his account for almost an hour.

Taking to Twitter, Prasad alleged 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”.

The IT minister said that in the past several years, no television channel or anchor has complained about copyright infringements with regard to the news clips of his interviews shared on social media.

The Quint verified the reason as to why was the minister’s account was denied access for an hour.
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What Happened?

When the minister tried to log in to the Twitter account, the microblogging platform showed a message saying, “Your account has been locked because Twitter received a compliant Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice for content posted to your Twitter account.”

However, an hour later, Twitter unlocked the access to the account by posting a warning message to the minister’s account stating, “Your account is now available for use. Please be aware that any additional notices against your account may result in your account being locked again and potentially suspended. In order to avoid this, do not post additional material in violation of our Copyright Policy and immediately remove any material from your account for which you are not authorised to post.”

The minister said that "my statements calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact, have clearly ruffled its feathers."

Copyright Infringement

According to Twitter, a copy of the DMCA takedown notice including the complaint has been sent to the e-mail ID linked to the account at the time of removal to ensure the account holder has all the necessary information along with instructions for filing a counter-notice.

A DMCA takedown is sent when a copyright owner believes someone has posted an infringement and they want it removed.

The copyright notice has been posted to the Lumen Database, a transparency initiative founded in partnership with the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard.

The Quint checked the Lumen Database to understand why RS Prasad was denied access to his Twitter account.

  • 01/02

    Copyright claim sent by IFPI for video song 'maa tujhe salaam'.

    (Screenshot: Lumen Database)

    <div class="paragraphs"><p>Copyright claim sent by&nbsp;IFPI for video song 'maa tujhe salaam'.</p></div>
  • 02/02

    Twitter took action, deleted the tweet.

    (Screenshot: Lumen Database)

    <div class="paragraphs"><p>Twitter took action, deleted the tweet.</p></div>
The transparency website reveals that the DMCA Notice was sent by International federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) on behalf of Sony Music Entertainment.
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Twitter deletes RS Prasad's old tweet for copyright infrigement.</p></div>

Twitter deletes RS Prasad's old tweet for copyright infrigement.

(Screenshot:Twitter)

The copyright claim was for a video tweeted by the minister, using words from AR Rahman's ‘Maa Tujhe Salam’ track. However, it is worth noting that the tweet seems to be from 16 December 2017.

IFPI on 24 May 2021 claimed that the tweet was copyrighted. After a month, on 25 June, Twitter took action based on the complaint, and denied access to the minister for using Twitter.

Similar Suit Faced by Shashi Tharoor

After the allegations by RS Prasad, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said his account had faced similar action.

Tharoor said that he was also blocked from his Twitter account for a copyright violation over a video he had posted of a dance performance featuring the song ‘Rasputin.’

"Raviji, the same thing just happened to me. Clearly DMCA is getting hyperactive. But getting a notice from a UK-based organisation, citing Twitter 's role as a ‘service provider’ under a US law, points to the challenges of Twitter India 's operations in India. Rs Prasad has pointed to possible violations of Indian regulations while conforming to foreign rules,” Tharoor tweeted.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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