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Do you buy or sell porn? Read this

Last updated on: December 15, 2004 20:48 IST

The MMS sex clip involving two Delhi Public School students has opened a Pandora's box.

The 2.37-minute clip was passed from one phone to another and it reached all over the country and even abroad.

It was also copied to a VCD and sold clandestinely in many cities. Later it was posted on www.baazee.com, a Mumbai-based auction site.

The Delhi police's Economic Offences Wing, which is investigating the case, says it has established the chain leading to the clip's sale on the Web site.

The clip first circulated among DPS students. Two students, who have been identified, sold it to make quick money.

It was then sold to a man for Rs 10,000. The man, whose identity has not been revealed, copied it on VCD and sold it to some shopkeepers in Delhi.

One Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur student in West Bengal allegedly bought the VCD and posted it on baazee.com, from where eight people bought it.

The student, Ravi Raj, 23, has been arrested.

He had sold the VCD for Rs 125 each on behalf of a fake company called Alice Electronics.

The VCD was removed from the net after two days when bazee.com found it pornographic.

The VCD was in a section where buyers and purchasers interact directly, say baazee.com officials, who are also being questioned by the police.

According to the police, buying the VCD is not an offence, but selling it is. But lawyers say even buying it can land one in trouble.

Even though copies of the VCD are being widely sold in Delhi's Nehru Place and Connaught Place markets for prices ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 250, lawyers have a word of caution for people who circulate dirty jokes, pictures and music through mobile phones and the internet: such circulation is governed by the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.

Pawan Duggal, an expert in cyber law, says the IT Act defines mobile phones as computers. Any obscene information circulated by mobile phones comes under the ambit of this law.

"The law does not define text, picture or music," says Duggal. "It just says data. The law does not permit circulation of any data in electronic form that is lascivious in nature."

According to the IT Act, selling obscene VCDs can lead to five years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 100,000. The punishment doubles if the offence is committed again.

Buying such VCDs is an offence leading to three years of imprisonment and a fine as decided by the judge.

Once you play the film on the computer, it is understood as publishing of the obscene content. The punishment for that is equivalent to selling it.

The baazee.com officials are pleading not guilty, saying they were unaware of the VCD's contents. But Duggal says: "Law is not bothered about your awareness. You are not supposed to list anything on the Web site without knowing about its content.

"The law holds baazee.com guilty unless proven innocence."

According to the IT Act, says Duggal, all mobile phone service providers who allowed the circulation of the MMS have also committed an offence. "The law clearly says that the service providers shall be liable for all data made available by them."

As for the boy and the girl, they are guilty of publishing and transmitting obscenity. The police, however, have not yet charged them.

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi