India is the fourth largest illegal downloader of online content, according to two reports released Tuesday by the Motion Picture Distributors Association (MPDA).
The reports were prepared on behalf of MPDA by Envisional and DtecNet, two global firms engaged in providing software solutions to track and prevent piracy of digital content and online business.
According to their findings, India trails only the US, Britain and Canada in online copyright infringement.
Envisional’s report said online piracy of film and television content in India is mainly through file-sharing networks like BitTorrent and cyberlockers, or web-based file hosts such as RapidShare or HotFile.
“The numbers that the surveys have come up with 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 of Motion Pictures Association (Asia-Pacific), in a statement.
“We are aware that more needs to be done to help people understand that when they take unauthorised 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 entertainment,” he added.
The report by DtecNet that is based on tracking illegal downloading IP addresses on P2P (Peer to Peer) networks, showed that from April to September 2009, India was among the top 10 countries in the world with the largest number of illegal P2P activities.
The research also claimed that India had the highest level of film piracy in any English-speaking country in that period.
It also said Hindi films are the most widely available domestic Indian content with most downloaders in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s “Kaminey” is estimated to have been downloaded over 350,000 times on BitTorrent with around two-third of downloaders located in India.
Tamil films are mostly downloaded in Chennai and Bangalore, while Telugu films are targeted in Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Rajiv Dalal, managing director, MPDA (India) said strict laws were needed to end unauthorised downloading.
“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 citizen that buying pirated movies hurts the industry and makes it difficult for movie-makers to make new films,” said Dalal.
According to an Ernst and Young 2008 report on “The Effects of Counterfeiting and Piracy on India’s Entertainment Industry”, the Indian film industry lost $959 million and 571,896 jobs due to piracy.