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No, Visiting Government-Blocked Websites Will Not Land You in Jail

Yes, piracy is illegal but no, only visiting a blocked URL will not send you to jail.

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Since Sunday, the internet has been flooded with new torrents and the news about visiting blocked websites landing people in jail for up to 3 years, or paying a fine of Rs 3 lakhs, reported India Today.

While it is not new information that downloading a movie is illegal and could land you in jail, there is no new law that will send you to jail for visiting a blocked website.

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Certain websites are being blocked by the John Doe orders passed by court, which deal with copyright infringement. Up till this point, messages of the website being blocked by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) were displayed. A change in strategy has been adopted, since the makers of Dishoom approached the Bombay High Court, according to an NDTV Gadget report.

Instead of displaying the site being blocked, the exact provision under the Copyright Act which makes it inaccessible will now be delivered by the ISP. This will ensure that users will be able to look up the reason for the content being unavailable.

However, Tata responded to this stating that individually delivering the messages to each user would not be feasible technologically, but the court noted that it was the only ISP to report the problem.

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/-. 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.

This is the message which is displayed which makes it amply clear that the viewing of any copyrighted material – movie, TV show – is illegal, as the law is known. However, just viewing the URL where it is hosted is not illegal.

It is not a new rule that has suddenly been enforced, just the law giving warning about piracy.

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