Yesterday, the internet was freaking out because a number of news and tech websites were saying that people who use or even view torrent websites that they are not supposed to like kickass, Utorrent, torrentz, YIFY, extratorrent, etc. may face a 3-year prison sentence or be fined up to 3 lakh Rupees.
But chill, you won’t go to jail for torrenting, it’s the torrent sites that are going down. Police can’t go arresting literally everyone, but they can prevent piracy in India completely by cutting your access to the sites that you’re not supposed to access. So torrent all you can now, ‘cause in some time you won’t be able to find a single torrent site online. Just kidding, Torrenting is bad, stop piracy. Get one free month subscriptions from these websites instead.
According to these news reports, several users accessing a blocked Torrent website or URL pulled up the message from Tata Communications Limited(TCL):
“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/-“
It further added:
“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.”
Experts however, disagreed. “Certain news reports indicate that people may be prosecuted for mere access to websites due to the notice by Tata Telecommunications not being phrased properly. The sections which are referred in the notice do not criminalise mere access in isolation,” said advocate Apar Gupta.
At the heart of the matter is a John Doe order, which “refers to an unidentified entity, and orders allow content owners to shut down entire websites in order to prevent them from allowing piracy, without needing to go to court, for each time,” as explained by Medianama.
Gupta added that “The notice is not properly worded.”
Not every internet service provider (ISPs) in the country has imposed the ban, but these actions have traditionally taken days to roll out. It’s also unclear when this ban was imposed, so it’s probably another misinformed case of the Indian government that led to scaring the torrent users a lot and banning loads of websites.