With the controversy of her singing of Christian songs in Carnatic music still raging, Nithyasree Mahadevan became the target of more trolling by right wingers on social media when a song she had sung early last year in praise of slain LTTE leader V Prabhakaran was dug up. In that song, she had compared Prabhakaran with Lord Muruga, a deity held dear by Tamils across the world.

Even as the YouTube page featuring the song was being shared, Nithyasree moved swiftly and took down the YouTube page. By late afternoon, the page showed the text,”Engal Thalaivan Prabhakaran…is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Nithyasree Mahadevan”. Quick google searches were not digging up the song as audio files, either. While the singer could not be reached for comment, the episode showed how wary artists such as Nithyashree have become about social media trolling. In the Christian songs controversy, a concert scheduled for late August was cancelled.

In the case of YouTube, the song had been used in an LTTE video and the page had many other LTTE-related propaganda material. Along with the Nithyasree song video, all the other songs linked to the video had all been blanked out. A copyright request may have been made to the channel aggregator that likely resulted in such an action.

While the singer likely acted in fear and not over copyright concerns, the swiftness with which she was able to destroy the digital record may hold lessons for other artists too. Digital footprint can be permanent and it is currently easier and cheaper to store data than it is to delete it. This means that for every online action —positive or negative, deliberate or unintentional—there is a permanent record.The information in a digital footprint is often permanently online, because it is archived, or saved permanently, in a variety of ways and passed on by others. The information can become public because it can be searched, copied, and passed on so that it plays to a large invisible audience. YouTube videos, however, are not archived online, it would seem, unless someone had downloaded them. 


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