830 more websites blocked in India, many torrent links in list

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830 more websites blocked in India, many torrent links in list

Barely days fiasco over the new warning message that an internet service provider started showing a few days ago to Indian web users accessing a blocked URL, the Madras High Court has ordered blocking of 830 more websites in the country. The order, popularly known as John Doe order because it is aimed at stopping unknown violators from digital piracy, came after Balaji Motion Pictures Ltd, producer of a Bollywood film A Flying Jatt, sought a ban on the ready-made list of 830 websites.

However, unlike similar orders in the past that have led to thousands of URLs and websites now blocked in India on the flimsiest of grounds, the latest court order also directs internet service providers (ISPs) and stakeholders — read the Indian government — to block websites that might not be in the list of 830 sites submitted to court but may indulge in piracy of A Flying Jatt. If and when they indulge in piracy, the details of these sites will be provided to ISPs by Balaji Motion Pictures Ltd and those sites will have be blocked.

“The HC after hearing the plea presented through the producer’s law firm ALMT Legal also directed the ISP to also block such sites within 24 hours of receipt of information on infringement from the film producer,” noted a report by TOI.

Blocking of hundreds of URLs at the behest of film producers is not new in India. It has become almost routine to for film producers to approach court before release of a film and take John Doe orders, leading to the blocking of the websites. Not only torrent sites have been blocked under such orders but also image hosts, file hosts and websites that share URLs. Although, these orders are practically ineffectual in blocking or reducing the piracy of movies because of the way web works, film producers have sought them again and again.

Also, websites and web links using HTTPS, which is more secure network between a user and the site, aren’t affected because ISPs in India cannot yet block such URLs.

By now so many URLs have been blocked in India, using these John Doe orders almost no one knows the full list of websites and web links that are blocked in India.

Recently, Bombay High Court asked internet service providers to not just block a website but also tell users why it has been blocked. In a message shown to web users, Tata Communications implied that the mere act of visiting a blocked URL and viewing information hosted there was a punishable offense. The message said that users would be jailed for 3 years as well as could be fined Rs 3 lakh for visiting such a site.

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