How online piracy ‘industry’ is a box-office wrecker

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 22, 2018


150 rogue sites thrive on piracy; industry claims loss of ₹19,000 crore a year

The size of the Indian film industry is estimated at ₹19,000 crore with over 2,000 movies released annually. The piracy market, which thrives on stolen content from Indian movies, is also making an equal amount, using a well-oiled machinery to quickly make copies and distribute them globally.

Notorious sites

The piracy players don’t directly make money from the downloads. They make it through the ads they host on the sites – more traffic would mean more clicks.

Of the 500 sites that indulge in circulation of pirated content in some form or the other, 150 thrive only on piracy. Nearly half of the 150 are from the US, followed by 11 from Canada, 9 from Panama and six from Pakistan. That the top 100 sites make ₹3,500 crore ($510 million) annually shows how serious the problem is.

For example, Baahubali, which wowed the audience with never-before graphics, was biggest movie ever made in India in terms of budget. The piracy network got into the act the day it was released. Through 1,500 links, 15.78 lakh people downloaded the movie and another 10 lakh people watched it illegally.

“They do it real quick and with precision. They are not small-time ruffians. Well-educated, tech savvy youth are making it a day job to indulge in this. Within hours of the release, they make a master copy and pass it on to others that multiply the copy and put it online,” D Suresh Babu, Managing Director of Suresh Productions, one of the oldest film production houses in the country, told BusinessLine.

The Motion Picture Distributors’ Association (MPDA) and other representatives of film industry have submitted a report to the Telangana government recently with a list of the rogue websites.

Telugu industry loss

The Telugu film industry lost about ₹360 crore in the first nine months of this calendar year due to online piracy. In all, there were about 1.80 crore downloads or web streamings this year so far.

“An estimated 55 lakh viewers watched four big budget movies Baahubali, Srimanthudu, Rudramadevi and Bruce Lee (with budgets of ₹40 crore or above) in the last three months,” he said, quoting a report.

These films were hosted through a whopping 2,700 piracy links, making it virtually difficult for the industry to take action. You take down this link or site, it surfaces in yet another link. And within the crucial first two weeks, when they hope to rake in good openings, the film would have been downloaded in lakhs.

Court orders ineffective

Though the producers are getting John Doe or Ashok Kumar orders from local courts that give them protection from copyright infringements by unidentified defendants, they hardly see any respite from piracy. With the problem assuming gigantic proportions, the film industry has sought the help of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep tabs on the erring sites and block the content when notified by the industry.

Published on November 06, 2015

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