How techies stop Bollywood pirates
By Bala Shah and DJ
Bollywood is a multi billion dollar business. And such big money always attracts the sharks and pirates. Every year, Bollywood loses big bucks to the internet pirates. Even nice guys like Bollywood super star Aamir Khan are not spared. His latest production Peepli Live had to hire a team of techies working at Bangalore based Aiplex software to help fight off the pirates.
Girish Kumar started Aiplex Software Pvt Ltd in 2003 as a 100 percent export oriented unit. It was during the 2008 recession in USA and UK, that Girish and his team developed a product Net vigilance to help prevent copyright theft. In 2009, he signed up his first Bollywood client. Aiplex has worked with a number of Bollywood movies including 3 Idiots, My Name is Khan, Ishqiya and House Full to prevent their copyright being stolen.
Techgoss caught up Aiplex boss Girish Kumar for a quick Q&A session
Techgoss (TG): How big is your software house? And how many people work in the section which stops Bollywood pirates?
Girish Kumar (GK): Our organization has approximately 100 employees of which about 25 work solely with our Bollywood clients.
TG: What are the skill sets in your team?
GK: We have a customized tool Net Vigilance which identifies many illegal and unscrupulous links to Bollywood movies. We then send them a copyright notice. Sometimes, it takes them only 10 minutes to take down pirated material and sometimes it is as much as 24 hours. Our software Net Vigilance does about 40 percent of the work, and our team has to manually do the remaining 60 percent of the work.
TG: Who was your first client?
GK: First client was movie Kurbaan from UTV Motion Pictures.
TG: What all do you do to help your Bollywood clients?
GK: Piracy is a serious problem. A movie is released at 10 am, and by 5 pm it has been pirated and put on the internet. We issue many copyright take down notices and many people realize their mistake and remove the movie and/or clips from their site. We also flood the internet with sometimes more than 5000 dummy links pointing to a bogus junk database to deter people searching the internet for newly released material. The idea is to make it very hard for anyone searching for such copyrighted material on the internet. If need be, we get the IP addresses from Torrent sites and hand them over to Bollywood producers who may or may not pursue individuals. Sometimes we even work with the hosting company to see how best illegal sites can be shut down.
(Girish was quoted by DNA as saying “The problem is with torrent sites, which usually do not oblige. In such cases, we flood the website with lakhs of requests, which results in database error, causing denial of service as each server has a fixed bandwidth capacity. At times, we have to go an extra mile and attack the site and destroy the data to stop the movie from circulating further.” While speaking to Techgoss, Girish politely avoided any talk of their company launching any such Denial of Service attacks on the worst Bollywood pirates)
TG: How long do you work with each movie? How much do you charge?
GK: We charge about Rs. 2-4 lakhs per movie and typically work for the first 4 weeks of the launch of the film. The clients sign us up 1 week before the movie is released so we can work out the best strategies to deal with internet piracy.
We work with each Bollywood movie for about 4 weeks to ensure internet piracy does not eat up a large part of profits. Most movies make their profits in the first 4 weeks and so need most protection in that month.
We currently have about 70 percent of the Indian market.
TG: Do you also work with software houses like Microsoft?
GK: We don’t have any software clients using this service.
TG: Do you feel that Indian police will ever have the skills and hardware resources to stop such piracy on the internet?
GK: Currently, police do not have the adequate software and resources to fight such piracy on the internet. They concentrate more on street crime and selling of pirated material by hawkers and some shops. So, we complement each other. In my view, Governments should set up policies and leave the private sector to implement their laws in many fields.
(Tipsters, Big thank you for all your tips and photos. Do you have a story to tell? If you need to speak to us in confidence or write for us, email us at techgoss[at]hotmail.com. Or use the Anonymous Tip form at the top of our website. Anonymity guaranteed. We pay Rs. 700 – Rs. 1000 for 100 – 200 word snippets. Unfortunately, we cannot use any tips which are not backed up by enough facts)