Indian internet users can now receive three years in prison and a hefty fine for visiting torrent sites.
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(CCM) — The Indian government has issued a warning to internet users who access blocked torrent sites in the country, saying viewing any one of them could lead to three years' imprisonment and a fine of $4,546. The government has blocked thousands of sites over the past five years due to their noncompliance with the Indian Copyright Act of 1957, but many users were still able to access them. While the government was quick to hand out the penalty, many experts disagreed on the issue. One complaint, by lawyer Apar Gupta, was that notice being sent to users is not phrased properly. "The sections which [sic] are referred in the notice do not criminalize mere access in isolation," he added. Counsel at the Software Freedom Law Centre, Prasanth Sugathan, also clarified, "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, Sugathan continued in an interview.
The matter is a John Doe order, which "refers to an unidentified entity and orders content owners to shut down entire websites in order to prevent them from allowing piracy without needing to go to court each time," explained a Medianama report. In response to requests from the Indian Department of Telecommunications, internet service providers have begun blocking the URLs using a DNS-filtering system and including the agency's warning against accessing torrent sites.
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