So next time you knowingly or unknowingly watching a pirated content online, then don’t worry as it’s not an offence.

As a relief to many online movie lovers, the Bombay high court has clarified that mere act of viewing pirated content online cannot be considered a crime under the Copyright Act. Selling, distributing or a public exhibition of the pirated films is a crime.

Justice Gautam Patel from Bombay HC said: “The offence is not in viewing, but in making a prejudicial distribution, a public exhibition or letting for sale or hire without appropriate permission copyright-protected material,“.

Viewing Pirated films online is not a Crime - Bombay HC

Bombay HC made this observation while hearing a petition filed last month. There was a huge uproar over the message displayed by Internet Service Providers (ISP) especially Tata Communication when users try to access government/court blocked websites or torrent website.

The warning message read “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 up to Rs. 3,00,000

So, as per the above message you will be jailed for 3 years and fined Rs 3 lakh just for opening or viewing any blocked website including torrent websites and porn websites.

However, Bombay HC has now directed ISPs to remove the line “viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating’ a particular film is a penal offence” from the error message and ordered them to add a more generic warning to these blocked websites. The message now also include details of a nodal officer that users can contact to address grievances.

  • NO, you won’t go to jail or become a criminal from viewing or visiting a torrent/blocked website.
  • Selling, distribution or showing a pirated movie in public is a crime.

The new warning message now reads “Infringing or abetting infringement of copyright-protected content including under this URL is an offence in law. Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957, read with Section 51, prescribe penalties of a prison term of up to 3 years and a fine of up to Rs 3 lakh.

You're currently offline