Downloading, not viewing a blocked torrent site would land you in jail!

The internet has been flooded with the news about visiting blocked websites landing people in jail for up to 3 years, or facing a fine of Rs. 3 lakhs. Even before you start agonizing about the imprisonment punishment for using a proxy site or a VPN to open a torrent site, here is what you exactly need to know.

It is not a current information that downloading a movie or viewing a copyrighted material is prohibited and could land you in jail. There is no recent law that will send you to the jail for visiting any blocked website.

Certain websites are being blocked because of the John Doe orders passed by a court, which deals with copyright infringement. Up till this point, the message of the website being blocked by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) was being displayed. A change in strategy has been approved, since the makers of Dishoom requested the Bombay High Court, according to an NDTV Gadget report.

If the pages are being obstructed since a movie studio wants to do so, shouldn’t the public be informed of the cause for this block? Rather than displaying the website as being blocked, the precise provision under the Copyright Act (which makes it inaccessible) will now be addressed by the ISP. Hence, this will assure that the users will be able to look up the purpose for the content being unavailable.

However, Tata responded to this stating that individually delivering the messages to each user would not be an achievable technologically. But the court perceived that it was the only ISP to state the problem.

This URL has been blocked under the instructions of the Competent Government Authority or in compliance with the orders of a Court of competent jurisdiction. Viewing, Downloading, Exhibiting or Duplicating an illicit copy of the contents of this URL is punishable as an offense under the laws of India, including but not limited to under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957 which prescribe imprisonment for 3 years and also fine of up to Rs. 3,00,000/-. Any person aggrieved by any such blocking of this URL may contact at [email protected] who will, within 48 hours, provide you the details of relevant proceedings under which you can approach the relevant High Court or Authority for redressal of your grievance.”

The above message is being publicized which makes it sufficiently clear that the viewing of any copyrighted material is illegal, as the law is known. However, just viewing the URL where it is hosted is not unconstitutional.

You can very clearly see that the above warning is about the unauthorized viewing of the copyrighted materials. Simply viewing a URL where the pirated content is hosted will not land you in jail. But yes, possibly you can be jailed for downloading that content. It’s worth noting that there’s no new law or ruling that’s at play here – it’s a standard warning about piracy.

Torrent sites are frequently used to distribute free & open source movies, software and / or literary and artistic work licensed under the Creative Commons licenses. And it isn’t a new law (to jail or fine) that has abruptly been enforced It’s just a rule giving out a standard warning about piracy under the commandments that have been around for a long time now.

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