Report: In Bollywood, Movie Piracy Is Largely Carried Out By Rival Publishing Houses

from the inside-job dept

To hear it from the film industry writ large, a certain picture is painted in one’s head when film piracy is discussed. That image is of a person, typically young, perhaps living in Mom and Dad’s basement and covered in Cheetos dust, illicitly downloading film after film for their personal enjoyment, cackling evilly all the while. And, hey, personal downloading that amounts to infringement is certainly a thing.

But it’s not the only thing. In India, where Bollywood has often put out the same old story about the evils of piracy, and where the government recently ramped up criminal penalties for recording or transmitting films and audio, one newspaper has comments from within the industry that suggest much of the film piracy in question is specifically enabled by rival publishing houses.

According to a Tamil cinema DVD seller, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, piracy is mostly an inside job. The source explains that movie companies are leaking each other’s films, as a competitive move.

“People from rival production companies or those from the creative department secretly release the movie online or circulate it as DVDs to hit the collection at the box office,” the source said.

This sounds like a Wild West story, but the allegations don’t stop there. Another source said that the local censor board and distribution houses are also on the piracy bandwagon.

“Another industry source said insiders in the censor board and distribution houses sell these copies for up to `5 lakh. The copies are uploaded on private portals that have dedicated passkeys,” the Times of India reports.

None of this specifically excuses downloading a film illicitly, of course. However, it most certainly does call into question the industry claims that piracy is by and large harming the wider film industry. If that were true, then these industry insiders uploading cam-footage and other films of recent releases would be committing self-inflicted wounds. Doing so would make little sense, were the larger claims of the industry true.

Amazingly, this goes even further down the chain, supposedly. These insiders work with theater owners to get these recordings, rather than movie-going citizens.

When it comes to recording video and audio at movie theaters, it is believed that some movie industry insiders work in tandem with theater owners to leak high profile films. As a result, some films appear online just hours after their official premiere.

So we have multiple layers of India’s film industry facilitating the infringement of that industry’s films to harm the competition, all while the studio heads and government say that it really hurts the entire film industry. If all of this is true — and it’s definitely an “if” –, it would appear that Bollywood is very busy harming itself for reasons that can’t be explained.

Other than to say that the industry’s hand-wringing is overblown, of course.

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Comments on “Report: In Bollywood, Movie Piracy Is Largely Carried Out By Rival Publishing Houses”

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Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

However, it most certainly does call into question the industry claims that piracy is by and large harming the wider film industry. If that were true, then these industry insiders uploading cam-footage and other films of recent releases would be committing self-inflicted wounds.

From a certain point of view, yes. "Self-inflicted" upon the industry as a whole, but they’re (presumably) looking at it not from a holistic perspective, but from the perspective of dirty-tricks competition.

This does, however, dovetail nicely with the Google report of several years back that a significant percentage of DMCA takedown requests it receives were not legitimate copyright claims, but rather attempts to sabotage competitors. It seems that there are a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason, prefer sabotage and pulling the competition down to actually working to out-compete them by producing a superior product.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Schools in session

To answer you’re implied question. Not if it’s not readily avilable no. Welcome to Business 101. I am Mr. Coward. You may call me Mr. Coward or Mr AC. Our next lesson will be entitled “Why pissing off current and potential customers is bad.” We will be covering the case of RIAA vs Grandmas and dead people. After that we will be covering the mystery of supply and demand. And what happens when you can supply a near infinite amount of things. The study guide for that lesson is the book “Thes waters free, the bottle costs 3 fiddy.”

R Matey says:

Oh, you dared this which says PIRACY HURTS PRODUCERS.

Of course you totally missed the big picture. So to speak.

Sheesh. You cannot spin the harm that pirates do onto insiders. Pirates are THE problem. Otherwise copyright works fine. I’m not harmed by it in any way that see.

It’s only you who demand free content because "teh internets" that worry about copyright. Honest people think it’s a good way to get (potentially high) income from a little bit of cleverness.

Copyright is in the US Constitution as an "exclusive right" because that’s the incentive for persons to deliver products to The Public.

This shows the harm.

I could repeat in variety, but the pirates don’t care. They want FREE CONTENT and that’s it.

Now, kids: do what Techdirt does better than any other site: CENSOR THIS AWAY.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Oh, you dared Troll

Now, kids: do what Techdirt does better than any other site: CENSOR THIS AWAY.

Lets see. You make an ad-hom attack, type in caps, make broad accusations about piracy, and misstate the Constitution.
Then lie about TD moderation policy from an unregistered profile – but can’t actually cite any comment boards with a better policy.
Not your fantastic blog, or any others have you ever linked to to prove they have better moeration than TF.

So ignore this response and complain at a later date. But don’t complain you’ll get downvoted to oblivion, because you have done everything possible to get flagged.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bucket of crabs theory

One crab will wind up the Alaskan king. In the self-help industry, that king laughed at having a "secret sauce" that was driving traffic to its website, noting that all the stuff on the web that was considered the source of the revenue was an illusion. In their back pocket they had a "secret" website like that 800+ books link posted elsewhere. They used that site to pick off new traffic from search engines, and to that traffic they marketed their premium seminars and other wares.

The income from this venture (and cost to the legitimate producers) was easily $10 million a year or more. These sites also have ties to organized crime, probably to discourage anyone from suing them.

If Masnick wants to dismiss this as irrelevant, he’s free to, but governments do not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Bucket of crabs theory

Can we have a honest conversation for a few moments here???

The income from this venture (and cost to the legitimate producers) was easily $10 million a year or more. These sites also have ties to organized crime, probably to discourage anyone from suing them.

Do you honestly think that anybody believes this?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Bucket of crabs theory

Maybe if you provided proof of this to a journalist (anonymously using snapshot archive sites like, you could have solved the problem. After all, will a little Mafia matter if the story is a click magnet? (unless it’s BS with no evidence, which is what it seems like)

Rico R. (profile) says:

Crying wolf, much?

Movie studios whine about the existence of piracy when piracy is mostly caused by themselves. This isn’t the first time this happened; remember Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube? They uploaded videos to YouTube themselves, claimed said uploads infringed on their copyrights, and then sued Google over it. I know this isn’t quite the same as this case here, but I have to wonder how much longer people will keep believing "Piracy is harming the industry" when this isn’t necessarily what appears to be happening? The industry continually breaks box office records but claim piracy must be stopped at all costs. But when you’re the one causing piracy, it definitely doesn’t look good!

Anonymous Coward says:

This is what happened in the self-help niche: those who gave expensive seminars used their "pirated" e-books (which were disguised advertisements for their seminars) to build mailing lists valued at over twenty dollars a "live" name, with the added benefit of starving their competitors who relied solely on reasonably priced e-books. This gave them a clean-sweep of the industry and income approaching ten million dollars a year or more. The masses loved it because they got free books, but the real goal was to get the "whales" who paid $5-10k for a weekend "VIP" seminar. That’s the "new business model" that piracy forced onto the marketplace.

The insiders may be the uploaders, but the public is still downloading and causing revenue to be lost for the honest creators, and diverted into the hands of criminals, a separate harm from any lost revenue to the creators.

Masnick’s obsession with dismissing the harm caused by piracy indicates a high level of devotion to it, rivaling that of a professional lobbyist. Even if he’s not being paid to do this, he is more dedicated to the task than someone who is. It would be up to the reader to decide why.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Masnick’s obsession

Don’t you mean your obsession was Masnick, blaming him and TD readers for your failed business venture?

Because either you have a failed business, or no business. Either way, it’s rather psychotic to imprint on TD as the source of your massive failure.

At least we have CDA 230 that keeps this, and every other, public forum open.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ah, inventing your own facts again. It’s not "failure" to refuse to break the law or con people the way the pirates do.

I have no obsession with Masnick, just evidence concerning his internet ties that can (and will) be dropped over time. Others here have quite the obsession with me though. The evidence I have will show who and why. It’s a very small group of people trying to seem larger.

I showed very clearly why piracy is a problem and why Article 13 is necessary. Your need for personal insults merely shows I’ve struck a nerve.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I have no obsession with Masnick

Which explains why you persist in posting on a site you claim nobody else reads, uh huh.

just evidence concerning his internet ties that can (and will) be dropped over time

"Over time" is not a tacit allowance for you to drag it on for years. But considering "limited times" for you knuckle-draggers is "infinity minus a day" it’s not like being a cocktease is new to you or anything.

I showed very clearly why piracy is a problem and why Article 13 is necessary

Your backstory spoke about plagiarism. That is something that’s covered under other aspects of law. That is something that has been repeatedly explained to you.

And assuming your backstory is true, which I don’t believe, you claimed that your books (and mailing lists) were stolen by someone too powerful in reputation and influence to sue because the law refuses to touch him. What makes you think Article 13 will allow for that?

Your need for personal insults merely shows I’ve struck a nerve.

Right, because you’d never ever sink to the level of personal insults. Oh, wait…

"Wow, the mouth on this one. MICK knows where to find these pirates, don’t you MICK?

MICK’s judgement is coming soon, I’m not worried.

But you? You’re going to learn what it’s like to poke a bear. An old, potent, powerful, rich, accomplished bear. I’m going to fuck you up your Aspie ass so hard you’ll beg for me to drop a SWAT team down your whore mouth."

Let’s make that another glass house in the neighborhood you’ve managed to break so far with thrown stones.

And while we’re at it, have an Article 13 vote!

Gary says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I have no obsession with Masnick, just evidence concerning his internet ties that can (and will) be dropped over time.

You are obsessed, posting multiple times a day, and per article, about your hatred of TD and Masnik. Weaksauce.

"Evidence" is something you present. If you claim to have it but refuse to show it – that’s a lie. And defamation to claim that TD is engaged in criminal activity.

I don’t have to make things up – you haven’t asserted any facts, ever. The fact that you don’t see your behaviour as strange is rather bizarre.

You have nothing slightly resembling evidence, you spout paranoid fantasies, and attack TD and the readers makes every see you as in impotent nutjob with nothing but a fictional self-help empire.

Maybe you had a point to make at one time – but your rants have devolved into meaningless gibberish.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Your failure

So it’s because they figured out a clever, if exploitative (of human behavior) model (use free "sampler" loss leaders to sell expensive seminars). I think you have some valid complaints. I think the main issue between you and the commenters here is a terminology issue with you conflating piracy (a term referring to unauthorized copying) with a "sampler" business model (using a free or cheap thing to sell something more expensive). The problem you are having is that most people looking for self-help are desperately looking for a solution to a vague problem and will drain their pockets to get a miracle solution that doesn’t exist. A better idea would be trying to promote the "less upfront cost" part, potentially through exposing these practices, comparing them to Scientology and other cults, through advertorial content on sites that criticize these types of things. After all, as Masnick says, content is advertising and advertising is content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Your failure

Selling 800+ registered works (including many by celebrities) is not a "sampler" but wholesale THEFT.

Your logic is self-refuting. If that "business model" were so enriching to legitimate producers, they would use it. Some do, in some form or other, and some don’t. I’ve used it many times myself. The only "failures" in business are the ones who let internet haters run their companies.

The failure here is those who want to stop Article 13, or who cling to a dying Section 230.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Truth

The pirates are the scammers, not me

Said the guy whose ebooks came with a variety of overpriced merchandise the author himself acknowledged were worthless white elephants, and knows the consumers absolutely hated. Seriously, Jhon, this salesman act of trying to peddle snake oil as self help books is getting fucking old. What are you going to write next? Who Didn’t Move Your Cheese?

God knows you must think the stakes are incredibly high

Thanks for admitting that Article 13 won’t do jack shit to stop piracy. Because if the stakes weren’t high and you weren’t invested in this you clearly wouldn’t be posting on a website you loath the fuck out of.

This isn’t about me anyway

Whined the crybaby who twists his panties every time somebody hurts his feel-feels.

I’m not the reason Article 13 is about to pass

That’s because you’re a nobody. And when your rightsholder lobbyists read the new Article 13 and decide the penalties aren’t high enough, or it places too much on their burden of proof, they’ll be sending it back to the drawing board. And you’ll be here again screaming about how this time it’ll be such a slamdunk, just like the last two times.

Anonymous Coward says:

If piracy totally destroys the self-help seminar industry, then … wow. Just wow. What can we do to promote piracy? And are there other kinds of viscious immoral predators that could be hurt by piracy? Is this a new paradigm for defending society? Could there be, for instance, a way of using piracy to harm child molesters also? or televangelists?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I consider that proof that everyone deep down really knows the claims of piracy doing damage are really bullshit – because absolutely nobody even considers doing it for child pornography a valid approach to fighting it.

If someone tried to use it as a defense for being caught sharing child porn as ‘vigilantism’ the response wouldn’t be outrage at the prosecutor for stopping the defendant but disbelief that the sicko tried such an incredibly shitty defense strategy.

ECA (profile) says:

fingers in the pot..

as the RIAA and MPAA try to get into the market and start blaming everyone except themselves.. trying to control things world wide..

There are ways to protect the data…without adding DMCA protections..
Like IR/UV Led around film screens..
Have a REAL representative AT theaters checking things.
Broadcast ONLY on TV..
Water mark all SAMPLES..

None of this is hard.
Piracy does have good things about it.. bitch and complain, and you can debate with Actors THAT its not making money…We cant pay you like hollywood.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: fingers in the pot..

"Crime does not have "good" things about it"

  • Crime is whatever the politicians what it to be, doesn’t always reflect any morals or ethics.

"organized crime (pirates) "

  • Individuals copying things does not constitute an organization.

"Article 13 can and will stop them,"

  • Who, pirates?

"those who like to take from those who make."

  • omg, not that mitt romney silliness again.
ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: fingers in the pot..

So, in the old past the artist sold his right to the Music/movie industry and gained WHAT??
Most of the older movie stars were paid salary, per year and worked on 5 films, and hardly got any more money..
Startup music people, unless they Did all the rpoduction work of an album, ended up being CHARGED for the production by the Music agency’s, which After all the fee’s gained them about $0.35 for an album sold for upto $20.. That Million record mark, and award, MEANS nothing… when the Agency gets arounf 65% of the profits.
Why not ask where the program Zip came from, and Know that the creator DIDNT sell it to the corps.. Until he died and could not defend his Copyrights, They couldnt/didnt have it..
More corps Sit around waiting for TECh to get cheap or the creator to Drop the CR, so they dont have to pay for anything.
Some of the best tech was created from Common goods, rather then PROPRIETARY hardware(look up the ‘C64 vs Activison’ and Amiga and BeOs hardware) . Go wonder about the Consumer market when we have serial processing, and parallel is ALLOT better at things..and the computer market is about 40 years behind. go out and find a REAL chicken ranch and get eggs, then wonder Why the ones in the store dont taste the same. Go find out Why there is such a thing as a 12 pound chicken. Go ask Why they use certain Cows over others, insted of Flavor they go for the MOST MILK…Then separate it in to Many products, and get ALLOT more money they just selling you PURE MILK…

We are humans, and those are corps, the corp ideal is to make the max amount of money they can Pull out of our pockets. And to corner Markets to force us to pay MORE then we should need to. and WHY most of us are Poor idiots.
Then ask why you pay a federal Representative to EAT better then you do..

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