Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Over the past few days, the internet world is filled with news stories that visiting or viewing torrent sites and banned URLs in India could land users in jail for 3 years including a penalty of Rs 3 lakh.
It was first reported by India Today, a leading daily, that visiting and viewing of information on torrent sites and blocked URLs in India could land users in jail for 3 years. Users could also be penalised a sum of Rs 3 lakh too, the report said.
As per the report, users could be penalised for just viewing a torrent file or downloading a file from a host that is banned in India. It is not necessary for users to download a torrent file such as videos, but just visiting the sites and viewing the information is enough to land one in jail, it added.
If one visits a torrent site or blocked URLs in India, the following text is shown.
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 is a change from the previous message which read that the site has been blocked on the directive of the Department of Telecom (DoT) or the court.
However, as per NDTV, visiting these torrent sites and blocked URLs in India will not neccesarily land users in jail nor be fined Rs 3 lakh.
"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," NDTV quoted Prasanth Sugathan, Counsel at the Software Freedom Law Centre India as saying.
"The only exception could be if a person views child pornography," Sugathan further told NDTV.
Moreover, reports suggest that just visiting the sites is no harm and not punishable as the warning strictly says, “Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents..”, which is not exactly the case with just visiting the sites.
So, will one really end up in jail for visiting torrent sites or blocked URLs? Not if one is just visiting and there is no downloading or duplicating of an illicit copy of the content.
Well, that is what the statement means to say so far. However, if downloading and duplicating of illicit contents of the sites are involved, it could every well land one in jail.
Over the pass few years, the government of India has banned over a thousand websites in the country for their pornographic and objectional content.