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Bollywood Piracy: Fighting Technology with Technology

There is no doubt that Bollywood has suffered at the hands of piracy, but the battle appears to have moved to cyberspace in recent times. A report by Mybangalore suggests that Bollywood’s latest strategy is to deploy an innovative, yet dubious, weapon against torrents in particular.


Perhaps this is a deliberate departure from the poorly conceived Hollywood strategy of clubbing together several defendants in a single suit, It has been reported that the producers of Peepli Live (starring Amir Khan) have engaged a Bangalore-based software to fight its cause after it emerged that up to 300 different websites were hosting a pirated copy of the movie, within hours of the movie being released. The strategy is simple – issue take down notices to  such sites, and in case they refuse, it begins DDoS attacks , which are generally used to prevent access to a website or service on the internet. In some cases, it could result in the destruction of data or crash the website indefinitely.

As stated in the article, this may not be entirely legal. For example, under Section 43(1) of the IT Act, anyone who ‘destroys, deletes or alters any information residing in a computer resource, or diminishes its value or utility,’  must pay compensation. Besides the civil action, there are criminal penalties contemplated under Section 66 of the Act. It states that if the act under Section 43 are committed dishonestly or fraudulently, it can result in imprisonment for up to three years. Terms ‘dishonest and fraudulent’ have not been defined, but their meaning can be drawn from other laws and judicial decisions. However, it appears the firm may find it hard to argue an honest intention, when there already exists a legal procedure under Section 79 the IT Act (despite its ambiguities).

All this just goes to show that  the issue of piracy and the liability for internet companies in relation to copyright claims needs to be addressed immediately. Well, unless we want ‘online vigilante justice’ to be the norm.

(Image from T4LLBERG under a  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license from here)

This post was first published on SpicyIP.

About Amlan Mohanty

Amlan is a lawyer based in India. He engages in research, writing, speaking and teaching at the intersection of technology, law and policy.