Bombay High Court Says Viewing Pirated Films Is Not An Offence But Distribution Is

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4:25 pm 5 Sep, 2016


The world of torrent users in India came crashing down when the news of any activity associated with it being criminalized surfaced.

On August 20, a report in India Today said that if anyone visited even blocked URLs and view the information, they would get three-year jail sentence and a fine of Rs.3 lakh.

They published this screenshot of a message on a blocked website.

 

Now, according to TOI, the Bombay High Court has reportedly said that it is not an offence to view a pirated movie but distributing it is an offence.

“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,” the TOI quotes Justice Gautam Patel as saying.

The court has also directed the removal of the line “‘viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating’ a particular film is a penal offence” from the message that is being displayed when one visits blocked sites.

 

R.M. Rajarathinam/The Hindu

Representational image of pirated CDs. R.M. Rajarathinam/The Hindu

The previous message was displayed by ISPs acting on a court order following a plea by makers of Bollywood film ‘Dishoom’.


ISPs have now been asked to add a generic ‘error message’ stating clearly that the site has been blocked pursuant to a court order. The message must also state clearly who to contact in case of grievance.

The message must also read: “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.”

For explanation, Section 65 of the Act states:

“Possession of plates for purpose of making infringing copies.

—Any person who knowingly makes, or has in his possession, any plate for the purpose of making infringing copies of any work in which copyright subsists shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 1[two years and shall also be liable to fine].

—Any person who knowingly makes, or has in his possession, any plate for the purpose of making infringing copies of any work in which copyright subsists shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 2[two years and shall also be liable to fine].”

The court said, “The basic purpose must be kept in mind, so that a person who is inadvertently adversely affected by a blocking order is made aware of his remedies and about which court he or she can approach for corrective or remedial action.”

 

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