There’s been quite the uproar on the internet lately because of Torrents. Governments are taking down big websites, and recent news had folks in a panic after some Torrent websites were blocked with a notification saying that one could be imprisoned for up to 3 years, with a fine of Rs. 3,00,000 for accessing these blocked websites. This led people to believe that if they had used a VPN or similar alternatives to access these blocked sites, they could land in prison, and find themselves short of Rs. 3,00,000.
As it turns out, that’s not exactly the case.
Prasanth Sugathan, Counsel at the Software Freedom Law Centre India, a registered society that works on the intersections of law and technology told NDTV the following:
“Visiting any website, even if it is a blocked site is not illegal either under the provisions of the Copyright Act,1957 or the Information Technology Act, 2000. The only exception could be if a person views child pornography.”
The notification on blocked sites was the following:
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 email@example.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.
This notification is only for TATA internet connection, and not other ISP. The warning clearly says that viewing the website is not illegal, but the contents under the URL is. Anti-piracy laws in India have not yet been fully fleshed out, and are far from being properly implemented.
This is not to say that you go about your thieving ways. Paying for content you enjoy is always the way to go. Which is why I am now demanding money from you for the good time you had reading this article.
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