Is Using Torrents In India Illegal? What Is Punishment?



We can see almost everything around us, every tool or instrument that we use, as double-edged swords. Torrent is no exception. Although a legal file-sharing technology, Torrent has fingers raised against it for the violation of the copyright act of India. 

Torrent users are using the P2P file-exchanging protocol of torrents to share and download copyrighted content such as movies and music. However, the creators of such content, in no way, indulge in making such copies and distributions of their work. Hence, the ISP blocks the torrent websites that contain pirated content.

What Is Torrent?

A torrent is not a file; instead, it is a set of information about the location, file size, and folder structure that you are willing to download. The torrent does not require a server; it is a decentralised, peer-to-peer file-sharing technology. 

The technology found a  popular user base because it offers many free movies, songs, TV series, games, and software. Whenever a new movie releases, you get it on torrent. Sometimes even before the release hour. In India, torrent is most used for downloading movies.

Many well-known websites provide torrent files. The Pirate Bay, Kickass proxy, YTS, 0123putlockers are some of the highly-used torrent sites.

But the practice of free download of copyrighted content is an act of piracy. People downloading movies, music, books from torrents violate the copyright act of the Indian constitution, therefore committing a crime. Moreover, many movies, especially web content, get leaked prior to the release date, causing a good deal of damage to the production of that content.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is an owner’s right or authority over their original work. The work can be in various forms, such as literary, music, film, or video content. The copyright is necessary for stopping unauthorised use, production, and business of one’s own original work.

The Copyright Act, Section 63, 1957

As mentioned in section 51,1957, the copyright act says that when an individual uses someone’s work in a way that only the creator with his exclusive authority can do, is considered a violation of the copyright of that particular content. 

The act of copyright violation includes making unauthorised copies of copyrighted content; or selling copyrighted content without the owner’s permission.

Section 63 of the copyright act mentions the punishment for copyright infringement. As in section 63, the punishment can be imprisonment of not less than six months, which can extend up to three years. And the fine can be fifty thousand rupees or more than that, up to two lakhs.

Will You Go To Jail For Using Torrent?

I think you have not skipped the copyright act part. If you are going into a torrent site just to view a file, you are not infringing on the copyrighted file. But, If you are downloading a copyrighted file and making copies on another device to distribute them, it is an act of copyright infringement. 

The Bombay High Court decided in the case between Eros International Limited & Ors and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, where the opinion of just viewing a pirated copy of a film is not a punishable crime. But making copies of that film for distribution, exhibition, or sale is indeed a punishable crime. 

Judicial Enforcement

The judicial forums of India are looking towards foreign solutions for this infamous copyright infringement action. The steps are evolving into modern solutions. It is almost a never-ending and very less profitable method to look for and shut down websites that violate copyright norms by piracy. So the judicial forums are taking other solutions.

John Doe Order

The copyright holder gets a John Doe Order ( Ashok Kumar order). The IP holder gets the right for seeking an injunction against the individual who is infringing the copyrighted content. The plaintiff also gets permission to look for and seize evidence for the infringement of its content.

The Delhi Court, in the case, UTV Software Communication Ltd vs 1337x and others, decided that IP holders can bypass the tedious procedure to gain an order from the court. Instead, they have the right to approach the Delhi High Court directly for extending an injunction order that is already granted against a website to a similar one.

Should You Use Torrent Or Not?

Torrent, as I stated earlier, is a legal technology. However, using it for copyright infringement is a different matter altogether and comes with assured punishment. Is torrent illegal in India? Is Mediafire safe? Questions like these are better answered through you; it depends on whether you want to use them.

Unlike other countries, India overlooks free downloads. Downloading copyrighted content is a punishable crime in other countries. But in India, punishment is given only when someone is making a profit from others’ copyrighted content. Torrent sites do face a ban, but the users can bypass using VPN. I hope you got your answer. Please comment in case there is any confusion.

What do you think?

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