In July, millions of Indians discovered they could not access their favorite file-sharing sites including popular hosters such as Mediafire, MegaUpload and Hotfile.
The chaos came about because movie studio Reliance Entertainment had obtained a court order from the Indian High Court which restrained many Internet services providers from offering, even indirectly, a pirate copy of the movie Singham.
Concerned by the consequences of breaching the court order, some ISPs blocked entire sites just to be safe, much to the disappointment of their users.
Despite the collateral damage, according to Reliance Entertainment Vice-President Music and Anti-Piracy, Sanjay Tandon, the aggressive action was worth it since the movie broke several box-office records.
“We were able to bring down piracy by 40 per cent,” Tondon reports.
Just a month later and Reliance Entertainment are back with a new movie called Bodyguard. It’s being premiered in theaters on Wednesday and encouraged by their success with Singham, the company says Bodyguard is going to be protected from unauthorized online distribution with every resource they have.
Measured alongside the after-the-fact DMCA takedowns of the West, the effort being made by the studio is unprecedented.
Reliance has obtained a proactive ‘John Doe Order’ from the Delhi High Court which forbids any ISP, site or service which potentially might be involved in infringement from offering Bodyguard, directly or indirectly. Already the company says it has forwarded the order to more than 2,000 ISPs and sites informing them of their legal obligations.
“The order is a measure to prevent piracy of Bodyguard. With this, we expect piracy levels for the film to come down by 60 per cent,” said Tandon, adding that the company has created an anti-piracy department especially for the job.
“For Bodyguard, the company has readied a team that will conduct raids to identify those infringing on the copyright,” he added.
Although the High Court order is only effective for restraining local services, it will be interesting to see how those affected respond.
File-hosting services outside the country won’t remove content unless they’re served with a takedown request which will then put pressure on local ISPs providing access to sites like RapidShare and MegaUpload. Will they blank out the sites altogether or will they spend time and energy surgically striking at specific URLs? We’ll find out on Wednesday.
BitSnoop, a torrent site which was asked to comply with last month’s court order, told TorrentFreak that thus far there has been no contact from Reliance or their lawyers over Bodyguard.
Aside from their aggressive and proactive online enforcement strategy, Reliance Entertainment is also taking another step to reduce piracy by addressing the issue of availability. In mid-September, just 6 weeks after Bodyguard premieres in 2,500 theaters, Reliance will release the official Bodyguard DVD.