The second wave of COVID-19 has accelerated digital piracy in India, which was already on the rise when the pandemic hit the country last year, making original content creators lose money by up to five times of what they make through genuine displays, according to a senior official of consultancy firm EY India.
The shift of organised content from theatres to OTT platforms with the advent of new technologies has also increased digital piracy as these platforms don't come for free. "The second wave has accelerated this problem because more and more people are now looking at these things sitting at home, and now the technology infrastructure enables you to view anything and everything from home," EY India, Partner - Forensic and Integrity Services, Mukul Shrivastava, told PTI.
He further said, "The situation was the same then (first wave) and probably worse now because people are now used to watching everything on an OTT platform and they would go to any angle to watch free content." In the new age, some of the methods by which people pillage video content include - password and credential sharing, sharing files over internet and via social media, and purchasing illegal streaming boxes. On the risk of original content creators losing revenue due to piracy, he said, "I think that is a huge problem. We definitely saw that increased last year and it continues this year also. We are working with clients on how to curtail this piracy." When asked by how much the content creators in India could lose going forward due to digital piracy, Shrivastava said while there is no data to quantify it, "I would say more than whatever revenues organisations are making from the genuine display of movies or any other creative content, they are losing three, four, five times that money because of piracy."
As per a report by Digital TV Research, the loss of revenue for OTT players on account of piracy in India is expected to hit USD 3.08 billion by 2022, while the cost of global online streaming piracy will reach USD 52 billion by 2022. Explaining why there has been an escalation in digital piracy, he said due to the restrictions to curb the pandemic, theatres and all public places where people would go out for entertainment are shut. "So the only entertainment they have is the whole content which is available on their handheld devices, mostly phones," Shrivastava said adding the quantum of viewership under normal circumstances were also growing even before the pandemic hit as India is a country which consumes a lot of content. "It is increasing in geometric progression right now and the piracy is also accordingly going up," he added.
Shrivastava said while there are solutions to combat digital piracy, at the moment a lot of companies have other priorities due to the pandemic. "This is not a priority at the moment but I think in the next year or so this will definitely go up significantly high," he said.