Ever wondered how the world of digital piracy works? Or why your favorite movie was taken down from a website?

Let’s dive deep into the waters of ‘piracy protection in India’ and uncover the treasures (and dangers) that lie beneath.

Piracy, in the digital world, isn’t about ships and treasures. It’s about unauthorised copying and distribution of copyrighted content.

But why should we, the general public, care? Well, because it affects us more than we realise.

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Definition of Piracy

Piracy refers to the unauthorised copying, distribution, or use of someone else’s intellectual property, often without their knowledge or consent.

This infringement can relate to various forms of media, including music, movies, software, and books.

In the digital age, piracy has become increasingly prevalent due to the ease of sharing content online.

For example, downloading a movie from an unofficial website or using software without a valid license are acts of piracy.

Such actions deprive creators of their rightful earnings and can lead to legal consequences for the perpetrators.

It’s essential to respect intellectual property rights and support creators by accessing content through legitimate means.

India’s Film Industry: A Glimpse into the Rising Tide of Online Piracy

The Indian film industry, releasing approximately 1000 movies annually, stands as the world’s largest entertainment sector.

Despite generating revenues exceeding $2 billion from theater releases, TV distribution rights, and DVD releases, it remains highly susceptible to piracy.

A 2018 survey positioned India fourth globally in online movie piracy.

Online piracy, which has overtaken traditional forms like CDs and DVDs, is prevalent due to the ease of downloading content from Torrent websites such as The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrent.

While The Pirate Bay offers freely licensed content, many such platforms provide copyrighted content illegally, making downloading tantamount to copyright violation.

To counteract this, technologies like print watermarking have been introduced, allowing producers to monitor the usage and movement of each print globally.

However, the reduced costs of converting prints into digital copies have only accelerated online piracy worldwide.

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Piracy Protection in India: Laws and Measures

In India, the Copyright Act, 1957 safeguards literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic work, including productions and cinematography.

However, with the rise of technology and easy access to the internet, piracy has become increasingly prevalent, particularly affecting the movie industry in India.

To safeguard the interests of creators and distributors, the Indian government introduced amendments to its piracy laws through the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012.

Two significant sections were added to address digital piracy:

  • Section 65(A): This section protects Technological Protection Measures (TPM) used by copyright owners. It penalises anyone who bypasses technological measures put in place to protect rights conferred by the Act with the intent of infringement. Offenders can face up to two years of imprisonment and a fine.
  • Section 65(B): This section addresses Information Rights Management (IRM), protecting sensitive information from unauthorised access. It penalises anyone who knowingly removes or alters rights management information without authority or distributes copyrighted works knowing that such information has been removed or altered without permission. Violators can be imprisoned for up to two years and fined.

Additionally, the Information Technology Act, 2000 addresses the online distribution of illicit copies of copyrighted content. Under Section 66 of the said Act, violators can face up to 3 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs. 2 lakh.

Furthermore, the Indian Judiciary has introduced the concept of John Doe orders.

These orders allow for action against unknown offenders, often used by film producers to combat online piracy.

By leveraging these orders, suspected websites can be blocked before the release of new movies. However, these orders are only issued after a thorough investigation.

Cases of Piracy in India

For instance, when the movie ‘Udta Punjab’ was leaked online two days before its official release, the film’s producers filed a complaint.

The Cyber Crime cell of Mumbai police arrested an individual for uploading the movie on his website, charging him under the Information Technology Act.

Similarly, in 2012, after the movie ‘Bachelor Party’ was pirated, the Kerala Anti-piracy cell traced the IP addresses of over a thousand individuals involved in the illegal upload and download of the movie, leading to their arrest.

How Do Movie Pirates Generate Revenue?

Movie pirates can be broadly divided into two groups: those with a seemingly “ethical” approach and the outright malicious ones.

It’s a bit paradoxical to label any pirate as “ethical” since the very act of piracy is inherently unethical. But let’s delve deeper.

The so-called “ethical” pirates primarily share pirated content to disseminate entertainment more widely and make it accessible sooner and without cost.

Their main goal isn’t necessarily to profit. Instead, they aim to cover operational expenses, such as server costs, to keep their platforms running.

Their primary revenue source is often pay-per-click advertisements. Given the high user traffic and frequent clicks on piracy sites, these ads can generate substantial income.

On the other hand, the more malicious pirates have motives beyond just sharing content. They often collaborate with cybercriminals who embed malware within the site.

This malware is designed to extract user data, and in return, the pirate receives a significant payout for facilitating this data theft.

Additionally, some pirates profit from streaming. They broadcast their pirated content on specialised devices known as ‘Kodi boxes’, and the sales of these devices become another revenue stream for them.

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India’s Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023: A Stepped-Up Fight Against Film Piracy

The Lok Sabha recently passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023, a significant move aimed at curbing film piracy and introducing reforms in the certification process by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

This new legislation categorises piracy as a criminal offense, imposing penalties of up to three years in prison, a fine amounting to five percent of the film’s production cost, or both.

Despite opposition from some MPs, the bill was approved with a voice vote.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur emphasised the bill’s importance, noting that while earlier pirated copies were made using camcorders, technological advancements have led to new methods of creating and disseminating such copies.

The bill represents the first significant amendment to the Cinematograph Act 1953 since 1984.

It empowers the CBFC to issue separate certificates for films intended for television or other media displays.

Additionally, the bill allows for the blocking of websites and URLs hosting pirated content under the Information Technology Act.

Thakur highlighted the bill’s potential to curb the transmission of pirated film content online and address unauthorised recording and exhibition issues. 

How to Report Instances of Piracy

Piracy, in the digital realm, refers to the unauthorised distribution and reproduction of copyrighted material.

This act not only deprives creators of their rightful earnings but also affects the overall economy of the entertainment industry. Reporting piracy is a crucial step in curbing this menace.

Here’s how you can go about it:

1. Recognise the Act: Before reporting, it’s essential to recognise what constitutes piracy. Any unauthorised distribution, reproduction, or download of copyrighted material, be it movies, music, software, or any other digital content, is considered piracy.

2. Online Reporting Platforms: Several associations and platforms allow users to report acts of piracy:

  • Software and Industry Information Association (SIIA): Based in Washington, DC, the SIIA is a global authority that addresses computer and software piracy at an organisational level.
  • Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA): The RIIA focuses on music theft and piracy in the United States, ensuring that artists are protected from revenue losses due to illegal music distribution and sales.

3. Local Reporting: Apart from online platforms, you can also report piracy at a local level. If you come across vendors selling pirated CDs/DVDs or notice suspicious activities like camcorder recording in theaters, report it to the nearest security official or local law enforcement.

4. Understand the Legal Framework: In India, the Cinematograph Act, 1952, and the Copyright Act, 1957, provide the legal framework against piracy. The act of recording movies in theaters without authorisation, for instance, can lead to imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lahks.

5. Encourage Ethical Behavior: Promote the importance of respecting copyrights among peers. By choosing to consume content legally, you not only support the creators but also contribute to a piracy-free digital environment.

6. Stay Updated: With the rapid advancements in technology, the methods and platforms for piracy also evolve. Stay updated about the latest trends in piracy and the measures to counteract them.

In conclusion, while Internet piracy might seem like a victimless crime, it has far-reaching consequences for creators, the entertainment industry, and the economy at large.

By reporting piracy and promoting the legal consumption of content, you play a crucial role in safeguarding the rights of creators and fostering a healthy digital ecosystem.


In the vast ocean of the digital world, modern day pirates embark on piracy expeditions, making online piracy a looming threat.

While camcorder piracy once dominated the scene, the shift to online platforms has intensified the risk of piracy.

Film industries, among others, often find themselves the primary victims of piracy, with their content being distributed without authorisation.

The primary objective of copyright protection is to safeguard creators’ rights and intellectual properties. India’s copyright laws offer a robust form of protection against these infringements.

However, with evolving modes of protection, there’s always the pressing question of protection adequacy.

While no one is suggesting a death penalty for pirates, the gravity of being a victim of piracy underscores the urgent need for stringent measures.

As we navigate these treacherous waters, it’s imperative to fortify our defenses and stay vigilant against the tactics of modern day pirates.

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What is the piracy protection law in India?

The primary law for piracy protection in India is the Copyright Act, 1957, which safeguards creators’ rights against unauthorised reproduction and distribution.

Which law protects movie piracy in India?

The Lok Sabha recently passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023, a significant move aimed at curbing film piracy and introducing reforms in the certification process by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

How does piracy protection work?

Piracy protection works through a combination of legal measures, technological safeguards, and public awareness campaigns.

Technological safeguards include Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems, watermarking, and encryption to prevent unauthorised access and distribution.

On the legal front, stringent laws penalise those involved in piracy, and regular enforcement actions are taken against violators.

Public awareness campaigns educate the masses about the implications of piracy and the importance of consuming content legally.

What has the Indian government done to curb piracy?

The Indian government has taken several steps to curb piracy. They have strengthened the legal framework through amendments in the Copyright Act and the Cinematograph Act.

The Information Technology Act, 2000, addresses online distribution of pirated content. The judiciary also issues “John Doe” orders, allowing content producers to take action against unknown offenders, especially before a movie’s release.