Viewing torrent sites in India now punishable with 3-yr jail term

22 August 2016

Major (Internet Service Providers) ISPs have been asked by the Department of Telecommunications to start blocking torrent sites and serve warnings to people visiting them.

The warning warns visitors to the sites could face 3 years in prison and a penalty of Rs3 lakh.

The warning reads, ''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 under this URL is punishable as an offence 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 upto Rs 3,00,000/-.

"Any person aggrieved by any such blocking of this URL may contact at 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.''

According to commentators, the language of the warning was at best vague and did not offer any proper guidelines or announcement made by either Department of Telecommunications or the government of India.

According to some commentators, viewing a torrent file, or downloading a file from a host that might have been banned in India, or even for viewing an image on a file host like Imagebam would make users liable to punishment.

One need not download a torrent file, and the actual videos or other files, which might have copyright, merely accessing information under a blocked URL could land viewers in jail and leave their bank account poorer by Rs3 lakh.

They add, the latest warning message clearly implied that URLs were being blocked was now taking place at the internet gateways and in this particular case, the gateway was apparently managed by Tata Communications, which was more difficult to circumvent.

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