BitTorrent usage has been growing exponentially in India over the last years. With this increased use of BitTorrent, the local entertainment industry is feeling threatened, and last weekend India’s first BitTorrent raid was carried out by the Hyderabad police. A ‘gang’ of four members was arrested and more are expected to follow.
BitTorrent is booming in India. The number of broadband subscribers has doubled over the last two years and for many BitTorrent sites India has become the main traffic source, beating the United States.
In 2008 we already identified India as the main growth market for BitTorrent, and with only 6% of the population connected to the Internet we’ve only just seen the beginning. The number of broadband subscribers is expected to more than double in the next two years, and many of these newcomers will take a particular interest in BitTorrent.
In fact, BitTorrent is actively used to sell Internet subscriptions in India. One torrent site admin, who prefers to remain anonymous, was contacted by a local ISP who asked for his permission to use the torrent site’s logo in an advertising campaign recently. This would be quite unusual in most other countries.
However, those who think that India is a safe haven for BitTorrent sites are too quick to judge. With a thriving movie industry, there are growing concerns about the negative impact BitTorrent may have on the local copyright industry.
Last week, two Bollywood movies were listed in our top 10 of most downloaded movies worldwide. This upward trend didn’t go unnoticed by the Indian authorities and last weekend the Indian police rolled up a four member ‘BitTorrent gang’ in the city of Hyderabad.
According to the police report, four men were arrested for their involvement in copying, selling and uploading movies and music. In addition to the arrests the police seized two CD duplicators and 1016 CDs / DVDs.
One of the suspects works as a carpenter and sold pirated goods to complement his income. “As income sources through carpentry work are meager, he is distributing pirated CDs to different CD shop centers on commission basis,” the police write.
Another arrestee, a technician, allegedly had a similar motive according to the Hyderabad police. “As the competition picked up his income sources fell down and since then he is indulging in preparation of pirated CDs in his own house,” reads the report.
The suspects are connected to the TorrentRockerz.com tracker but also uploaded music and movies elsewhere, such as on the popular DesiTorrents tracker. According to the police, their goal was to increase the popularity of the TorrentRockerz website and profit from advertisements.
One source told us that the arrests have created a mild panic among BitTorrent tracker administrators in the region, and some have taken their sites down as a precaution. Unconfirmed reports claim that the operation is still ongoing and that more arrests have been made.