In a huge relief for movie buffs, the Bombay High Court has clarified that merely viewing a pirated copy of a film online cannot be termed as a punishable offence under the Copyright Act, reported The Times of India.

“The offence is not in viewing, but in making a prejudicial distribution, a public exhibition or letting for sale or hire without appropriate permission, copyright-protected material,“ Justice Gautam Patel said.

Bombay High Court/Source: PTI

Patel further asked internet service providers (ISPs) to show a generic message for copyright infringement in the “error message” that is displayed when a blocked site is accessed, instead of the line “viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating a particular film is a penal offence”.

The court had recently ordered ISPs to block several sites showing pirated content, along with an “error message” after producers of the film Dishoom had made a plea against online piracy.

On August 12, an ISP, Tata Communication Ltd (TCL), pleaded that it was "technically impossible" to implement the directive.