Tech

VideoLAN threatens to sue the Indian government for blocking VLC website for no reason

VLC, the popular open source media player developed by the French organization VideoLAN, is set to take on the Government of India in court, all because of an incomprehensible crash of the project website by the authorities that has lasted more than six months.

“In March 2022, to our surprise and dismay, the URL ‘https://www.videolan.org/’ appeared to have been blocked from viewing in India without notice to me or anyone else in the organization,” writes in a letter sent to India’s Department of Telecommunications Jean-Baptiste Kempf, president of VideoLAN and main developer of VLC. “Despite the claims and uproar on social media, neither we nor the Indian public were provided with reasons to block the URL.”

They pick up the news in Ars Technica and it is really surprising, because there is no reason for said block: “it is particularly shocking for us, since the Government of India itself supports the use of VLC as part of its Digital Initiative, where it has expressed its intention to use open source software for applications used in public administrations. In fact, the Government of India also appears to use the VLC Media Player icon and logo on its website to promote open source software,” Kempf added in the letter.

“VLC is currently being used by 80 million Indians and has seen a steady average of 25 million downloads per year in India since its launch. For millions of Indians, VLC is the main option to run all kinds of multimedia formats for free”, he continues, also alluding to the political disinterest of the free software project, except for its well-known positions against DRM technologies and in favor of open source.

From what they say, it has been speculated that the blockage was due to a malware campaign, as the player was affected by the exploitation of a vulnerability in an old version, but still widely used. According to Kempf, however, the blocking of the site would have begun before the existence of said campaign was known and, in any case, it demands an official response from the country’s authorities.

Thus, from VideoLAN they demand a response in accordance with Indian legislation and, if it does not occur in a short space of time, they will proceed to sue the Government, for which will have the help of the Internet Freedom Foundation. Undoubtedly, a curious case at least that will show the respect for legality in the territory of the giant of the Indian subcontinent.

Although the dispute could well be settled with a mere agreement, especially considering the free nature of VLC and that, beyond the official website, no one in India should have a problem getting hold of the media player through many other and very different ways. all legal.

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