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Online piracy a genuine threat to Indian film & Television industry

December 15, 2009 5:18:51 PM IST
Bollywood Trade News Network
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Research Commissioned by the Motion Picture Distributors Association (India) Reveals P2P Infringements in India among the Highest in the World.

MPDA today released two Internet piracy studies demonstrating that copyright infringement online is a major problem in India. The first report by Internet Company DtecNet - based on tracking of downloading IP-addresses on P2P networks - showed that from April to September of 2009, India was among the top 10 countries in the world with the largest number of illegal P2P activities.

Similar results were found by Internet Company Envisional. In its Internet Piracy landscape report, Envisional found that online piracy of film and television content in India is mainly through the file-sharing network BitTorrent and cyberlockers, or web-based file hosts such as RapidShare or HotFile. Video streaming sites are also popular, though their usage is lower than bittorrent and cyberlockers.

The major international BitTorrent portals were heavily used by Indian downloaders. In addition, the number and popularity of a range of large Indian-focused BitTorrent trackers was extremely high. Within a range of BitTorrent swarms for six MPA member studio films, 6.5% of IP addresses located could be traced back to an Indian IP address. This placed the country as the fourth-largest downloader behind the US, Great Britain, and Canada. Relative to the number of broadband subscribers, India had the highest level of film piracy of any English-speaking country.

Hindi films are the most widely available domestic Indian content with most downloaders in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. The recent film KAMINEY is estimated to have been downloaded just over 350,000 times on BitTorrent with around two-thirds of those downloaders located in India. Tamil films are mostly downloaded in Chennai and Bengaluru. Nearly 80% of downloaders of four Tamil films on BitTorrent were located in India. Telugu films are mostly downloaded in Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Over 88% of downloaders of four Telugu films on bittorrent were located in India.

Moreover, India is one of the largest users of cyberlockers in the world. On average, 8.2% of visitors to the top ten cyberlockers worldwide are located in India and the country makes up 11.8% of visitors to the top ten cyberlocker link sites which collate and index pirated content held on cyberlockers.

As broadband penetration is now accelerating in India, measures for stemming Internet piracy should be considered. Otherwise the numbers of subscribers involved in P2P file sharing in India are likely to grow exponentially in tandem with the country's broadband growth, and to pose even more significant risks to its domestic film industry as well.

According to Hindi film producer Mahesh Bhatt: "There is a danger that as the Internet infrastructure in the country continues to grow at a fast rate, it will serve to power a community of Internet users who will view piracy as an activity without consequence and who will engage in such activity with ease."

"The numbers the surveys have come up with just underpin our constant refrain - that the economic and social impact of online piracy is enormous and will have even greater long-term implications if not addressed," said Michael Ellis, President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, MPA. "We are only too aware that more needs to be done to help people understand that when they take unauthorized content off the Internet, or pay next to nothing from a pirate street vendor, they are indulging in online theft and therefore damage the very movie-making community that has been bringing them decades of entertainment."

"Around the world film industries face the same problems," said Rajiv Dalal, Managing Director, MPDA (India). "We need strong laws to support copyright, strong enforcement of those laws, stiff sentences for people who violate those laws, and most important, an understanding by ordinary citizens, the people who love movies, that buying pirated movies hurts the industry and makes it difficult for movie makers to make new films."


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