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Bombay HC: Not an 'offence' to watch pirated films

05 Sep 2016 | By Supriya Kaur
Piracy laws worldwide vis-a-vis the Indian scenario

The Bombay High Court ruled that 'merely' watching a pirated copy of a film is not a punishable offence under the Copyright Act.

It clarified that the offence pertains to 'a public exhibition' or making a 'prejudicial distribution'.

The court's observation is in context of a message displayed by ISPs that spooked users: it said those accessing blocked-URLs could be imprisoned for 3 years.

In context: Piracy laws worldwide vis-a-vis the Indian scenario

ExamplesPiracy laws worldwide

In 2012, Spain passed legislation that allowed copyright-holders to report websites hosting pirated content; these websites would then be blocked within 10 days.

The legislation was intended to bring domestic law in sync with the international piracy crackdown.

In 2015, Russia passed legislation that would make internet companies shut off access to sites pirating media and even a court order wouldn't be required.

Massive piracy in Spain

Shortly before Spain passed anti-piracy legislation in 2012, 97.8% of all music consumption and 77% of movie consumption was via illegal downloads; 60.7% of all game downloads took place illegally.
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The most stringent anti-piracy laws

Japan and FranceThe most stringent anti-piracy laws

In 2011, France adopted stringent piracy laws: the bill allows a police agency to monitor illegal downloads. Violators would be warned twice before being banned from the internet for a year.

In 2012, Japan passed legislation which empowered authorities to arrest people guilty of downloading content illegally; they could be imprisoned for two years or slapped with a fine of upto 2 million yen.

DetailsCrackdown on internet piracy ecosystem

In February 2016, in a three-day long crackdown 90 raids were conducted all across Japan and 44 people were arrested for downloading and distributing content.

In August 2016, two of the largest torrent sites in the world went offline: Kickass Torrents was shutdown by the U.S. government soon after its alleged owner was arrested. Shortly after Torrentz ceased operations voluntarily but gave no explanation.

Three Strike System

New Zealand has a three strike system which is similar to France. Warnings are issued to violators twice by their ISPs. Upon the third violation, copyright holders can take offenders to court where they face disconnection and fines of upto $15,000.

July 2016Bombay High Court: 'Dishoom' movie piracy case

Producers of the movie 'Dishoom' sought orders from the Bombay HC to prevent illegal distribution of their movie.

The court blocked 134 URLs and web links and instructed ISPs to display a message that the site was "unavailable due to a court order".

However, blocked websites posted a message that said "'viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating' a particular film is a penal offence".

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05 Sep 2016Bombay HC: Not an 'offence' to watch pirated films