An abominable attack on freedom of speech and expression

By Murtaza Ali Khan

After attending the press show of the Soham Rockstar Entertainment produced film Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, I had posted a review of the film, sharing my thoughts about it, on my Facebook timeline (along with the link to the movie's official page on IMDb.Com). I re-posted the review some days later on my timeline again as I thought the movie touched upon the important issue of woman liberation and so it needed to reach a larger audience (interestingly, the same was posted on Twitter but there is received a re-tweet from the film's official handle). Few weeks later, I received a notice from Facebook that Soham Rockstar Entertainment has raised a copyright claim asking my review on my timeline to be taken down. So I wrote to them, requesting them to withdraw their claim, for it being a review, must come within the norms of fair use.  

I didn't get any response to my mail but more than a week later I received another copyright notice from Facebook, again on behalf of Soham Rockstar Entertainment. I once again wrote to them and even tweeted to their official handle along with the producer Vinod Bachchan, requesting the concerned person(s) to look into the matter. But so far haven't received any response from anyone. To make the matters worse, Facebook banned me from posting/commenting/messaging anything on Facebook for 3 days as a penalty for copyright infringement. Now, for the last 3 days, I have been trying to reach out to the Facebook's support team, trying to convey it to them that I am a film critic and that it's my bread and butter to review films, which I have been doing that for the last 7 years and that I regularly receive press kits/releases from the production houses and their PRs (from across India as well as internationally) to review films or write about them. But yet again I haven't received any response from Facebook. 

Now that I am finally able to post on Facebook, I have decided not to post anything on my timeline for the next 7 days as a silent protest against Facebook for trying to be both the judge and the jury and for not allowing me to explain myself before muting me in an utterly inconsiderate manner. It is clearly an attack on my freedom of speech and expression which is my fundamental right, guarded by the constitution of India. 

I have vowed to take a legal action against Facebook (not only for financial losses but also for suppression of freedom of speech and expression as well as for mental harassment / punitive damages) if ever again I get muted like this without getting a proper opportunity to explain myself. Also, I have decided to boycott all films and offerings from Soham Rockstar Entertainment until I receive a public apology from them for treating a film critic with an international following with such utter disregard and contempt. It's really sad that the production house doen't have a mechanism in place to identify what's a genuine review, posted with good intentions, and what's a copyright infringement.

This has happened to me today and tomorrow it could happen to you and so lastly I would like to entreat you all to help me in propagating this message all across the globe.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!

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