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Maharashtra Cyber cracks the whip on Thop TV for copyright violation of Viacom18’s content

In a recent content violation issue, Viacom18 filed an official complaint with Maharashtra Cyber.

The network had filed a complaint against Thop TV, alleging that the rogue, standalone application had been relaying and transmitting the network’s copyrighted content such as movies, TV shows and video on-demand (VOD) content without authorisation at a discounted price to common public, causing a substantial revenue loss to Viacom18.

The research and analysis team of Maharashtra Cyber investigated the matter which led them to the accused, a 28-year old, Satish Venkateshwarlu, a Hyderabad-based IT engineer.

Venkateshwarlu was found to have created a standalone pirated application, through which he stole content using its inbuilt API (Application Programming Interface).

“After the initial technical investigation, it was noticed that the accused, a highly educated IT engineer from Hyderabad developed a mobile application named ‘Thop TV’ and pirated Viacom18’s content through Telegram, a social media intermediary. The app has lakhs of viewers, including 5,000 paid subscribers, thereby generating massive revenue for the app,” said Sanjay Shintre, Superintendent of Police.

Venkateshwarlu has been arrested under Sections 43, 66 and 66B of the Information Technology Act, 2000, Section 63 of Copyright Act, and Section 420 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Piracy has become a serious issue for all mediums including TV and digital.

London-based Digital TV Research, a company which tracks OTT and television space and provides business intelligence for the TV industry, in a recently released report said that video streaming players in India may lose around $3.08 billion by 2022 on account of piracy.

Another report suggests that video streaming platforms are losing 30 percent of their annual revenue to piracy.

For films as well, piracy continues to be a menace. And to tackle this, producers look at filing John Doe for a theatrical release.

John Doe means that when a producer is anticipating largescale piracy, a lawsuit is filed but when the suit is filed the plaintiff does not know who may cause infringement of his/her material. The nature of this order is called John Doe when the producer would not know the identity of the person who would cause the breach but has a reasonable doubt of violation of law.

In 2018, Yash Raj Films (YRF) had filed John Doe suit before the Madras High Court to prevent piracy of its release Hichki, starring Rani Mukherjee. And this allowed makers to take a series of actions against piracy and any person or entity indulging in the piracy of the film.

Similarly, both TV and OTTs are looking at various legal and technological ways to curb piracy. Money Control

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