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Recently, it has been all over the news in India that if anyone visits a banned torrent site, they may get jailed for 3 years.

Here is an example:

The Indian government, with the help of internet service providers, and presumably under directives of court, has banned thousands of websites and URLs in the last five odd years. But until now if you somehow visited these "blocked URLs" all was fine. However, now if you try to visit such URLs and view the information, you may get three-year jail sentence as well as invite a fine of Rs 3 lakh.

This is just for viewing a torrent file, or downloading a file from a host that may have been banned in India, or even for viewing an image on a file host like Imagebam. You don't have to download a torrent file, and then the actual videos or other files, which might have copyright. Just accessing information under a blocked URL will land you in jail and leave your bank account poorer by Rs 3 lakh.

Is it true that merely visiting a banned website offering torrent files can be punishable by three years in jail?

  • @Oddthinking, I didn't say only banned torrent sites. I was saying about all torrent sites. – Mr_Green Oct 19 '16 at 6:16
  • But that is not a notable claim, and is therefore off topic here. – Oddthinking Oct 19 '16 at 7:29
  • @Oddthinking oh any other SE site where it can be migrated to? Please migrate if there is any SE where it is on-topic. – Mr_Green Oct 19 '16 at 7:55
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According to a recent verdict of Bombay High Court, viewing/downloading copyrighted material from the internet is NOT A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.

Here is the article related to the verdict in The Times Of India. Justice Gautam Patel said,

"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,"

He asked Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to drop the line

"'viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating' a particular film is a penal offence" from the 'error message'

The HC also ordered ISPs to put up a more generic message along with details of a nodal officer that users can contact to address grievances. The message must include,

Infringing or abetting infringement of copyright-protected content including under this URL is an offence in law. Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957, read with Section 51, prescribe penalties of a prison term of up to 3 years and a fine of up to Rs 3 lakh.

So yes you can view those sites.

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    The question is about whether it's illegal to visit torrent sites, without mention of what it's used for or whether the content is copyrighted. Your answer does not address the actual question at all. – iamnotmaynard Oct 18 '16 at 14:35
  • Visiting a torrent site may be legal in itself, but actually running a torrent client to infringe copyright is probably a crime. The trouble is that BitTorrent doesn't just download, it uploads as well. So that would probably count as "making a prejudicial distribution". – Paul Johnson Oct 19 '16 at 4:19
  • Viewing is fine but what about downloading from/uploading to those sites? – Mr_Green Oct 19 '16 at 5:25
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    The clarification of the question is that it isn't about downloading a torrent file, it is about visiting a banned site. – Oddthinking Oct 19 '16 at 5:44
  • @Oddthinking Maybe I was not that clear. I was actually asking about visiting torrent sites in India and then downloading/uploading files from/to it. – Mr_Green Oct 19 '16 at 6:17

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