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Latest law on visiting torrent sites in India

 Torrent was considered as a heaven for people addicted to movies and series. Who would want to wait over a week to watch an episode of Game of thrones when it is easier to download the whole series in one go or spend copious amount of money on tickets of next Friday release when you can download the whole movie with extra or unedited footages.


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In recent days there has been a lot of buzz around a new notice that certain users are seeing on blocked URLs in India: -


“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 up to Rs. 3,00,000/-. Any person aggrieved by any such blocking of this URL may contact at urlblock@tatacommunications.com 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 notorious aspect of this warning is that few media reports are claiming that just visiting a blocked URL, could lead to a three – year jail and fine of up to Rs 300,000. This has sent users into frenzy with many imagining getting arrested any moment.


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Even viewing blocked URLs may get you arrested?

This is perhaps the most popular myth about the hullabaloo surrounding the ban.  The notice doesn’t say that visiting a blocked URL will get you arrested, but the viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an “illicit copy of the contents under this URL.” In simpler words, visiting a torrent website won’t get you arrested, but downloading pirated content from these websites could. Similarly, watching illegal streams online could also land you in trouble.


 


Why the viewers are being made liable?

The Bombay High Court recently in its Dishoom John Doe order passed on July 26, 2016 asked internet service providers in India to not just block URLs but also explain to users why the URLs have been blocked and possibly warn them of consequences of illegally accessing copyright work.


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Is this a complete ban on torrent sites?


Not anytime soon.


Not all torrents have been banned. There are numerous torrents available and no sooner is one torrent taken down, it is replaced by several others. Even blocked torrents are accessible using easily available virtual private networks. These VPNs are more secure from detection.


But torrent users face uncertain times ahead. The state agencies everywhere in world are catching up and going after big torrents. The arrest of world's largest Bit Torrent distributor Kickass Torrent's founder and the Kickass Torrent subsequently going offline is just the latest in what is emerging as a trend.


In India, once blocked these torrents and other URLs remain blocked for years. And courts are liberally granting requests for preventive blocking of websites on the wishes of filmmakers and content creators.

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