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    QuoraED : Are You A Criminal If You’re Using Torrent In India?


    QuoraED! This is when we pick up a trending or interesting thread from Quora and spin a story around it.

    India Today published a news piece titled ‘Are you a criminal now? Users may get 3 years in jail for viewing torrent site, blocked URL in India’.

    Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.49.21 am

    Following this everyone went crazy – tweeting and talking about it to gather more information and to know how serious is government regarding the entire thing!

    We came across a thread addressing the same issue on Quora. While some trolled around saying every 2nd person downloads torrents for movies, tv shows etc. and how it’s not really possible to put all the people behinds bars, some others genuinely warned about the threat that might ensue on using blocked websites and torrents.

    Following is a collection of some answers posted on Quora to the exact QUESTION :

    Are you a criminal if you are using torrent in India? How serious is this? What are the key points related to it?

    1. Yes, you are a criminal if you’re using torrent in India unless and until it doesn’t come under FAIR DEALING.

    Under fair dealing, you can use copyrighted material for :

    • the purpose of research or private study

    • for criticism or review,

    • for reporting current events

    • in connection with judicial proceeding

    • performance by an amateur club or society if the performance is given to a non-paying audience

    • the making of sound recordings of literary, dramatic or musical works under certain conditions

    But still downloading or uploading a copyrighted material from/on world wide web is illegal in India.

    The following are some of the commonly known acts involving infringement of copyright :

    • Making infringing copies for sale or hire or selling or letting them for hire

    • Permitting any place for the performance of works in public where such performance constitutes infringement of copyright

    • Distributing infringing copies for the purpose of trade or to such an extent so as to affect prejudicially the interest of the owner of copyright

    • Public exhibition of infringing copies by way of trade

    • Importation of infringing copies into India.

    And the punishment for copyright infringement is :

    • Administrative remedies : detention of the infringing goods by the customs authorities.

    • Civil Remedies : injunctions, damages and account of profits.

    • Criminal Remedies : imprisonment (up to 3 years) along with a fine (up to 200,000 Rupees).

    The government has taken more precautions than before. It no more relies on DNS-filtering. As article link provided above says, the government is taking help from big companies like TCL and Airtel to manage Internet gateways.

    2. Most of us are already criminals!

    Mostly torrents are used to transfer the copyrighted material (in simple words – piracy).

    So, if you are counting Indians criminal based on this act of piracy then probably almost everyone using laptop is already criminal.

    1 There are so many fake Windows making the owner a criminal.

    2 If Windows is genuine, then MS Office is pirated in 95% of personal computers / laptops resulting in declaring the owner a criminal.

    3 If both of these software are genuine (or MS Office not installed) then there are other pirated softwares installed in machine like photoshop

    4 Even if there is no pirated software is installed or its installer is dumped in hard disk, there are number of movies illegally downloaded and stored in hard disk. (Even after knowing that piracy is a crime). Besides movies, songs and copies of copyrighted images are also stored.

    All of these make us criminal. Most of us are just heard the word “piracy”, but only few understand what’s actual meaning of this word and how many contents it covers.

    You know why there is no action even after almost every other person is criminal in this context? Just because of this large number of criminals. Since everyone is doing this, government can’t arrest or impose fine on anyone!

    3. As long as the item is copyrighted and you don’t own it, then downloading it (for free) via torrent is illegal.

    Most countries have basic common laws against intellectual property theft. If a piece of music is copyrighted and you don’t own it, you can’t download it legally. The same goes for a movie, a game, or anything else you may want. The line gets kind of fuzzy here, since people ask themselves many different questions about their own countries’ laws.

    In general, a copyright is registered to an individual or organization that creates something. This copyright has a time limit, usually equivalent to the lifetime of the creator and a Set of amount of additional countries.

    Some copyrights are for life plus fifty years. Others are for life plus seventy years.

    One thing for sure, torrent is not equal to piracy. The torrent protocol is just a transmission mean for users to download files more easily. It is the content (not the protocol) that makes the act illegal. When it comes to downloading through the torrent protocol, there’s no real way to stay completely safe.

    However, it remains one of the most effective peer-to-peer protocols in the world. If you’re worried that you may be downloading something that’s against the laws in your country.

    It was all posted by India Today and further by other media houses. There isn’t any official laws made for this yet, so shouldn’t be a thing to worry about.

    At the same time, it is not that no action is possible against the offender at all. The Copyright Act now has specific provisions to deal with online piracy and if you haven’t been proceeded against, doesn’t mean you never will be or can’t be!

    Did this clear some of your doubts regarding the issue? Let us know about any further questions in the comments below!

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    Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.

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