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FIR against websites lodged by Disney Star to fight piracy

Media company Disney Star has filed a first information report (FIR) with Bengaluru cyberpolice against a few digital platforms indulging in piracy. The development acquires significance as digital piracy has been growing in India.

The FIR, confirmed Santosh Ram, station house officer, cybercell, Bengaluru Police, has been registered against TamilMV, TamilBlasters, Tamilrockers, and an application (app) PikaShow TV for carrying leaked television (TV), over-the-top (OTT), and film content on their platforms.

“The cumulative traffic on these platforms is estimated at 62 million. They mostly offer Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam content, which is leaked on their websites. Of late, they have been offering content in other languages, including Hindi. The FIR has been registered by Disney Star. We are investigating the matter,” said Ram, when contacted by Business Standard.

Typically, these piracy groups source their content directly from theatre and OTT platforms, releasing it on their websites and mobile apps, said media industry experts. The content is distributed through Torrent websites, third-party cyberlockers, user-generated platforms, and offshore servers.

In the case of TamilMV, TamilBlasters, and Tamilrockers, pirated movies were made available within 24 hours of theatrical release, causing revenue loss to producers.

PikaShow, on the other hand, aggregates content of leading broadcasters and OTTs using offshore servers and cyberlockers. The content can also be downloaded and viewed in offline mode.

A spokesperson for Star India said the company had been fighting piracy using technology (tech) tools, filing John Doe suits, issuing legal notices to content pirates, and working closely with law enforcement authorities.

“We are seeing a new form of piracy, which is through Android apps. These are also difficult to track. Recently, on a complaint filed by Star, the Maharashtra cybercrime unit had taken down a rogue app called ThopTV. Enforcement agencies in various states have been serious in tackling this menace, which is causing huge loss to the Indian creative economy,” said the spokesperson.

A recent report by UK-based Digital TV Research pegs the loss of revenue to OTT players in India due to piracy at $3.08 billion (or over Rs 23,000 crore) this year. Some experts say that piracy of films, TV, and OTT content put together in India would be in the region of Rs 50,000 crore annually, since access to leaked content through websites, file-sharing platforms, and mobile apps has become easier in the past few years.

“The way content is shared has evolved over the years. It saw an uptick during the pandemic,” says Mukul Shrivastava, partner, forensics and integrity services at EY.

“People are hacking processors, sharing content on unsecured accounts with the password of one OTT account being used by multiple people. This causes loss to not only the content owners, but is also a loss in revenue for the authorities,” he adds.

A joint study by Akamai, an American digital services company, and MUSO, a tech company that provides anti-piracy solutions, released earlier this year noted that India ranked third in accessing piracy websites in 2021, after the US and Russia.

The trend, said experts, is expected to continue into 2022, given the propensity to pay for entertainment content remains limited among Indian users. Business Standard

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