The Walt Disney Company recently filed a major piracy complaint in India against two of the country‘s most popular streaming platforms – Pikashow APK and TamilRockers. This legal action highlights increasing efforts by global media giants to crack down on copyright infringement of their prized content.
You may not have heard their names before, but Pikashow and TamilRockers have become giants of streaming piracy in India. Pikashow in particular gained notoriety as a go-to mobile app providing free access to movies, TV shows, live sports and other premium content. Experts estimate it had been installed on over 5 million Indian devices prior to Disney‘s complaint.
TamilRockers, along with other sites named in Disney‘s filing like TamilBlasters, have similarly built huge audiences by allowing unlicensed downloads and streaming of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam language films. Collectively, these pirate services generated an astounding 60+ million cumulative traffic according to police.
This represents a massive amount of lost revenue for Disney, estimated at nearly $200 million per year from India alone. Piracy significantly limits paid subscriptions to Disney‘s Hotstar service and box office revenues from theatrical releases.
Disney Star Cracks Down on Streaming Piracy
The official complaint originated from Disney Star, the India subsidiary responsible for popular television channels and streaming platform Hotstar.
Disney Star accused Pikashow of illegally broadcasting live content from its Star Plus, Star Gold, Star World and Star Sports channels. Several Disney+ "Hotstar Specials" original programs were also distributed without authorization.
In response, local police have already arrested two individuals believed to be operating Pikashow APK. Broader investigations are underway targeting the TamilRockers, TamilBlasters and TamilMV piracy hubs.
A Disney spokesperson confirmed the company is committed to protecting its intellectual property and "will spare no efforts in combating piracy." Since 2019, Disney has filed over 120 anti-piracy lawsuits in India alone and dedicated $11 million annually to antipiracy operations.
Globally, Disney detected nearly 13 million instances of copyright infringement across streaming platforms, torrent sites and illegal IPTV services last year. They sent over 8,000 takedown notices but admit this is an uphill battle.
Streaming Piracy Remains Rampant Worldwide
India has become an epicenter of media piracy, with a high-demand audience but lack of affordable legal options. However, streaming and download piracy persists on a global scale.
Research conducted by Disney revealed that streaming piracy results in estimated losses of nearly $31 billion for the U.S. film industry alone each year. This includes illegal distribution of both movies still in theaters and catalog titles.
With Disney+ aiming to hit between 230-260 million global subscribers by 2024, the company is especially determined to maximize subscription revenues. But inconsistent anti-piracy laws remain a challenge.
"Platforms like Pikashow exploit gaps in regulations across jurisdictions," notes Anita Elberse, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. "Restricting access in one country just pushes pirates to base operations elsewhere. It‘s a global game of whack-a-mole."
What‘s Next in the Anti-Piracy Fight?
The long-term impact of Disney‘s latest complaint in India is unclear. The named rogue apps and sites may resurface through replica domains or "forked" code. And research shows that aggressive legal tactics can actually increase traffic to illegal sources in the short term.
Disney will likely continue filing suits in India while analyzing global site traffic patterns and sources of pirated content leaks. But stronger policy changes are needed on top of litigation.
India‘s Minister of Information Broadcasting Anurag Thakur commented: "We urge online intermediaries to disable or remove unlawful content as soon as possible upon notification. But lasting solutions require international cooperation between governments."
In the meantime, consumers have alternatives to piracy like affordable Disney+ Hotstar plans starting at just $15 per year in India. Or they can visit theaters to experience films like Marvel‘s newest blockbuster on the big screen.
Piracy may never fully disappear. But improvements in platform availability, pricing and awareness help reduce reliance on illegal sources. There are plenty of legitimate options available to enjoy Disney‘s magical world of entertainment.