India to jail people for “looking” at a torrent

15-days-yoga-meditation-and-trekking-retreat-in-the-indian-himalayasThe Indian government has capitulated to the powerful Bollywood Big Content movement and is going to jail anyone who looks at a movie torrent.

The daftly autocratic pirate law is just what the US studios have always wanted but never been able to get Western governments to carry out – presumably because it would criminalise the entire country.

The Indian government has banned thousands of websites and URLs. But if you visit these blocked URLs and view or down one you may get three year jail sentence and a fine. Being in a chowki in India is no laughing matter dot com.

It gets worse if you visit a site which had one of the banned URLs because you could also be jailed. You don’t have to download a torrent file, and then the actual videos or other files, which might have copyright.

If you visit such a URL, you will be shown the following warning.

“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 three years and also fine of upto Rs. 3,00,000/-. Any person aggrieved by any such blocking of this URL may contact at urlblock@tatacommunications.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”

It is not clear how the it will be enforced unless the Indian government is monitoring the whole world wide web, looking for people may access or try to access a blocked URL.

What appears to have triggered all this is that the Indian courts are issuing John Doe requests at the request of Bollywood film makers. The lawyers of film studios often approach courts ahead of a movie’s release seeking preventive blocks on the URLs they compile in the list.

But the lists are pants and some of the blocks are there because a site had a name which could be connected to the Bollywood film title. However, the courts do what they are told because Bollywood is just so damn powerful.

Once this order is issued, the copies of the order along with the list of URLs to be blocked go to DoT, which them passes an order to internet service providers to block these sites. Once a site is blocked it remains blocked even after the film has been released and has been forgotten.