Day in and day out, millions of people use pirate sites and services to download or stream movies and TV shows.
In recent years, a large percentage of this activity has taken place through apps that run on Android, the dominant operating system for phones and tablets globally.
These pirate apps come and go, but over the past year, Pikashow has made quite a name for itself. Word-of-mouth advertising helped the app to break through, and after becoming the official sponsor of the Afghan cricket team during Asia Cup 2022, its profile went mainstream.
That sponsorship deal should never have happened and rightsholders have been trying to put the genie back in the bottle ever since. The Motion Picture Association, for example, listed PikaShow as one of the main piracy threats in its advice to the U.S. Trade Representative.
“[T]he PikaShow app has been downloaded over 10 million times across various mobile application stores and Telegram,” MPA wrote, adding that the operator is believed to be located in India.
In India, meanwhile, police weren’t sitting around either. Last year, Disney Star referred the app to the authorities, alleging various crimes under computer abuse and copyright laws. After an initial criminal complaint failed to produce the desired result, local police eventually arrested a suspect two weeks ago.
The man, who was identified as a college student, stands accused of illegally streaming Star India and Disney+ Hotstar content via PikaShow, while monetizing those pirate streams through advertisements.
While this sounds like a major breakthrough, it’s unclear whether the suspect is indeed one of the kingpins. What we do know is that PikaShow apps remain widely available. In fact, with all the press attention, the brand may have even become more popular than before.
DMCA Takedown Collateral
This is obviously a major disappointment for rightsholders working around the clock to contain the problem. This includes sending takedown notices to Google, urging the search engine to remove infringing PikaShow-related results.
Unfortunately, these DMCA notices are not without issues. Over the past weeks, multiple anti-piracy outfits and rightsholders have tried to remove links to our PikaShow news coverage.
The notice above was sent by MarkScan on behalf of Disney. While some of the reported links may lead visitors to the pirate app, our article about the arrested student certainly doesn’t. MarkScan also sent another takedown notice that reports the same news article, asking Google to take it down.
The Indian anti-piracy outfit is a familiar name and has reported legal content before, including that of its own clients. In addition, MarkScan employees were previously arrested after they allegedly masqueraded as competing anti-piracy firm to steal clients.
Unfortunately, MarkScan is not the only company reporting our news coverage as ‘copyright infringing’. The Disney-owned platform Novi Digital Entertainment also flagged the same link directly.
On top, a company with the prestigious name ‘Copyright Integrity International’ also targeted our news article, ostensibly on behalf of Cricket Australia. The same governing cricket body also decided to boycot Afghanistan matches recently, but the PikaShow sponsorship isn’t provided as a reason there.
Needless to say, we are not pleased with these inaccurate takedowns. Luckily, however, Google is not convinced by them either, as all DMCA removal requests have been rejected.
The same is true for a recent takedown request, sent on behalf of Warner Bros, that targets our news coverage on the leaked “House of the Dragon” season finale.