If you’re also worried after reading reports that you might be sentenced to 3 years in prison and/or penalised Rs. 3 lakhs if you as much as visit a torrent website, calm down. That is not true, you’re not going to jail simply if you visit a blocked site.
Prasanth Sugathan, Counsel at the Software Freedom Law Centre India told NDTV, “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.”
So what has happened then? In order to prevent piracy, some websites will now be banned under the John Doe orders from the Bombay High Court. After some movies were leaked on torrent sites before their release this year, this order is implemented after an application by the makers of the movie Dishoom, hoping to discourage any piracy attempts.
And what the court has asked ISPs to do is that instead of just the message saying that the website is blocked, they should deliver a bigger message with more information about the copyright act provisions, along with the court order.
However, one of the ISPs, Tata responded to the court that this was not technologically feasible for them. As a result, the court agreed to a compromise with Tata, and allowed them to go with the message that started the reports.
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.
If you look at the message, you can see that the warning is against “viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating” copyrighted material. There is no way you’re doing anything illegal by just visiting a torrent site. However, there are piracy laws in place, and if you download something from a site, that is actually illegal. But again, it is as illegal as it was before, there is no new law or ruling in place now.
So yeah, if you’ve never been to jail for downloading a pirated movie until now, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up going to jail now.