According to India Today, users caught viewing blocked URLs (torrent sites basically) will be treated like actual criminals and may get up to three years in jail. Hence, today’s article will try to answer a fundamental question for our Indian readers: is torrenting illegal in India?
Is torrenting illegal in India?
India is one of the few countries in the world which has already imposed draconian legislation with regards to torrenting
As usual, everything revolves around copyright law, and India is now looking to enforce strict rules about this issue after the government actually banned/blocked torrent websites. Since 2018, torrenting commercial/copyrighted content is regarded as a criminal act in India and may land you in jail, while emptying your bank account in the process.
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Torrenting in India
The truth is that regardless of its “scary legislation” on file sharing issues, India has a rather dismal record concerning enforcing copyright infringement laws, thus torrenting is hugely popular in the former British colony.
Because the Indian government blocked thousands of websites in the last five years, it goes without saying that torrenting is a very lucrative “business” in this country. Even if official statistics are rather scarce with regard to how widespread torrenting is in India, it’s widely believed that online piracy is the norm, not the exception. According to guesstimates, given its huge population, India ranks 4th among English speaking countries for internet piracy, with an emphasis on online movie-piracy, as per various reports via the Motion Picture Distributors Association (India).
As per a report via Dtec Net, India sits among the Top 10 countries in the world in regard to illegal file-sharing (torrenting basically), while Envisional places India 4th after the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Pirated material, such as TV shows and movies, is distributed mainly via torrenting networks like The Pirate Bay. Approximately 7% of the world’s illegal P2P downloaders have Indian IP addresses.
Why does India have one of the highest rates of film piracy per capita? A possible answer is that India’s national culture is very cinema-centric, and Indians love all things Hollywood and Bollywood.
Legal documents defining the use of torrent sites and files
If you’re into “legalese,” we must mention India’s Copyright Act from 1957, which makes for the essential legislation that protects everything literary/artistic/musical/dramatic work, which includes online-privacy related issues, i.e. it also protects the interest of the movie-industry (Bollywood is a $2 billion/year industry by the way). Copyright laws were revolutionized by the Copyright (Amendment) Act passed in 2012, which amends piracy laws in India, with an emphasis on Section 65A, which protects Technological Protection Measures (TPM).
Legal consequences for torrenting of copyrighted material
To quote from the Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act from 1957, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents from a blocked/banned (torrenting) website prescribe imprisonment for 3 years and also fine of Rs 50,000 – Rs 200,000.
The problem is that there’s a lack of clarity in India’s copyright laws, which means that anyone may end up in trouble provided a government agency or the police decides to “throw the book” on that particular person, i.e., you may be a criminal without even knowing it, if someone really pushes for it.
Torrenting-related lawsuit statistics in India
There are virtually no lawsuit statistics about torrent users in India that we know of. However, any torrent user may get in trouble under current Indian copyright laws if caught visiting any blocked URL in the country. Until recently, visiting blocked/banned URLs was an offense punishable by a hefty fine, but now such nefarious activity may land you in jail for up to 3 years. Here’s what web-users in India are seeing when visiting a particular URL that has been banned in the country:
“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 up to Rs. 3,00,000/-. Any person aggrieved by any such blocking of this URL may contact at [email protected] 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.”
How to torrent safely in India
Now comes the fun part, as we’ll teach how to torrent safely and anonymously in India. Provided you already have a BitTorrent client installed on your machine, here’s a short step-by-step tutorial:
Step 1: Choose a VPN service provider and download/install the software on your computer by following the instructions.
Step 2: Choose a P2P server (keep in mind that the best VPN providers offer dedicated servers for torrenting) and connect to it.
Step 3: Check to see if your real IP address is hidden before starting torrenting. Click here to see your real IP address, then check it again with the VPN service started and see if it changes.
Step 4: When the VPN connection is established and your real IP address is changed, you can safely start torrenting.
Best VPN for torrenting in India
Considering India’s very harsh (and confusing) laws concerning online piracy, smart torrent users should always use the best VPN they can afford. And speaking of the best VPN for torrenting in India, we strongly recommend NordVPN. Why?
To begin with, NordVPN offers over 5,700 servers in 60 countries (last time we checked, there were 5280 servers available, and their number is steadily growing). Moreover, the servers are divided into specific groups, and some of them are dedicated to torrenting aficionados, i.e., you can choose from several ultra-fast file-sharing-centric servers, aimed at making P2P users happy.
Also, NordVPN is a Panama based company, a country which makes for a privacy-paradise, as it has zero data retention laws. As such, this is the ideal VPN for torrenting in India – it’s very fast, incredibly easy to use and set up, it offers a comprehensive zero-logs policy, along with hundreds of ultra-fast servers optimized for file sharing, and it actually encourages P2P downloads and torrenting activities in general, unlike other VPN providers. Just don’t forget to enable the Kill Switch feature while torrenting, to make sure your IP hasn’t leaked if your connection drops.
Mikaela is an investigative journalist that likes to cover the ever-changing world of technology. She tries to keep her finger on the pulse of digital trends and share her insights on the most relevant topics, including big tech, security, privacy, and data breaches.