By Utpal Borpujari
India has emerged as one of the biggest hubs of online film piracy, with Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai accounting for the major share of illegal downloads.
According to two studies commissioned by the Motion Picture Distributors Association (India), the local office of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association (MPA), India accounts for maximum film piracy of any English-speaking country if one goes by the number of broadband subscribers.
Overall, it is the fourth largest downloader of films behind the United States, Great Britain and Canada, according to MPDA’s Internet piracy studies.
It is no surprise that Hindi films are the most widely downloaded Indian content with maximum downloads happening in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s recent film Kaminey is estimated to have been downloaded over 350,000 times on BitTorrent with around two-thirds of the downloaders located in India, the studies have found out.
Tamil films are mostly downloaded in Chennai and Bangalore, and nearly 80 per cent of downloads of four Tamil films on BitTorrent happening in India, while Telugu films are mostly downloaded in Hyderabad and Bangalore, with 88 per cent of downloads of four Telugu films on BitTorrent traced to India.
The first study for MPDA was carried out by Internet company DtecNet, based on tracking of downloading IP-addresses on P2P networks. It showed that from April to September this year, 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.
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.
Releasing the results of the studies, MPDA said government should consider measures to curb Internet piracy considering that broadband penetration is accelerating in India.
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, it said.
“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,” MPA’s Asia-Pacific president Michael Ellis said.
MPDA (India)’s managing director Rajiv Dalal said that India needed strong laws to support copyright, strong enforcement and stiff sentences for people who violate those laws.