INDIA: With the ongoing pandemic, digital piracy has risen drastically. Many Hollywood and Bollywood movies have been available on pirated films websites way before their initial release. Black Widow and Cruella have both been available on pirated films websites here for months, following their international streaming release.
Latest Bollywood movies like Shershaah, Mimi, Toofan, Roohi, and several others were immediately available on pirated sites just after their digital release. The pirated versions of these films are available before or on the same day through links on Telegram and WhatsApp.
Digital Piracy and its consequences
In May, Salman-Khan starrer Radhe was openly sold on Facebook just after its release. According to the reports, three people were arrested under sections of the Information Technology Act and the Copyright Act. The film industry finds piracy of OTT releases highly concerning as the pirated films are available in high quality. Earlier, the pirates would record in cinemas and only poor-quality movies were available. Due to this, people used to avoid watching pirated movies because of bad quality. However, with digital releases, pirates can now easily access high-quality versions of the movies.
As per an international publication, Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson’s recent lawsuit against Disney listed “piracy” as one of the reasons. Johansson was against the makers releasing the superhero film simultaneously in theatres and on digital platforms.
Many streamers watch pirated content because it’s free and high-definition versions are easily available.
Now, the big question is, What is stopping the producers from taking action against OTT privacy?
While streaming content and digital piracy have moved on to far better technologies, the law has not caught up yet. Thus, the enforcement of the Copyright Act has been extremely difficult.
Piracy, online streaming and the law
If a person downloads a movie from a pirated website or an unlicensed platform or accesses the pirated website to watch a film, will that person be arrested?
Well, the answer to this is still unclear and complicated. Downloading a movie, web series from a pirated platform is a violation of intellectual property rights. However, a person cannot be arrested for this.
Under Section 51 of the Copyright Act ‘reproduction of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work in the form of a cinematograph film shall be deemed to be an infringing copy.’ However, Section 52 clearly states that private viewing is not an infringement. What does that mean? It means if you forward it to others or sell it, then it is an infringement and you can be arrested.
While a person can’t be directly arrested for watching pirated content, they can still be restrained or be asked to pay for the damage by the respected OTT platforms.