Piracy on the rise as viewers lap up movies for free

Online film piracy has increased by 62% in the country in the last week of March, compared to the last week of February, according to MUSO

Lata Jha
First Published11 May 2020
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Piracy figures are zooming—courtesy a lot of locked down Indians who either cannot afford legal video streaming platforms at home or simply want to consume free content through cheap internet connectivity.

Online film piracy has increased by 62% in the country in the last week of March, compared to the last week of February, according to digital piracy authority MUSO.

And it’s not Indians alone. Figures for other countries are a 41% increase in the US, 43% in the UK, 50% in Spain and 66% in Italy, said MUSO.

“A lot of pirated content is circulated through platforms that people technically use for other features,” said Rajkumar Akella, honorary member of the Telugu movie industry anti-piracy chamber.

Akella pointed to messaging and voice services such as Telegram and social networks like Helo, which he said understand the concerns of filmmakers and intellectual property right owners but are also hungry for traffic and do not have adequate protective mechanisms in place.

A Helo spokesperson said content that infringes copyright as per its community guidelines is not permitted on the platform. The service also allows users to report such content, following which it is taken down.

Given that cinema halls are shut and people are dividing their time between TV, video streaming, and pirated content, 30-40% of the total video consumption is of pirated content, Akella said.

Indians tend to be extremely price conscious but just as minimally security conscious, said a senior executive at a technology solutions firm. “Somehow, we don’t seem to mind that malware attached to some of these sites may eat into our own data and damage our private systems,” he said.

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