Torrents, Copyrights, and Indians


The last few weeks were sad days indeed for many among us. The uproar when the authorities went after popular sites such as megaupload & the pirate bay are still fresh in the minds of most netizens. After many successful years of evasion, the torrent site KickAssTorrents got shut down for good. We were sad, but we decided to move on. Then, the torrents search site got canned. That made many of us realize sh*t just got real. Unlike most of the other sites which got shut down/sued like yify or isohunt, torrentz did not host torrents but acted as the biggest signboard to the sites that did. This meant that the efforts of law enforcement agencies, lobbyists & studios were finally getting to torrent owners and users.

In the Indian context, torrents sites have always played a huge role in making premium content available to the masses. Unlike the first world countries which produce these multi million dollar shows & films, India suffers from both a lack of quality content AND poor internet accessibility. Indian TV shows used to be incomparable in every category from script, direction, acting, budgeting, & viewership, just a few years ago. Producers and channels stuck to some traditional formulas (they still do in fact) and churned out saas bahu rivalries in every variation under the sun. It was only after 2010 when the Indian youth began to watch international quality shows which was light years ahead on content and quality, that at least some variation came into the market. Today, there are some Indian TV shows (mostly web series’ though) which are on par or even better. It is a fact that if it wasn’t for torrents, these big Hollywood studios wouldn’t have had any foothold in the Indian market at all. And yet they continue to clamor for more regulations.

Just imagine an internet without torrents. You see an ad on TV about Star Movies Premiere which officially broadcasts Game of Thrones in India. Now, you’ve heard plenty about GoT online but due to copyrights issues, the most you have seen are episode ads on YouTube. What on earth would compel you to take that subscription if you don’t even have a clue about this show? It is a fact that hotstar subscriptions went through the roof just before GoT Season 6 was aired. It wouldn’t have been possible if people couldn’t download/watch the previous 5 seasons from somewhere. It is also a fact that fans of the show would unquestionably subscribe to be the first to see. Ta daa!! HBO has now successfully made money (indirectly of course) due to torrents. I myself became a GoT fan courtesy of some guy somewhere who downloaded all 5 seasons due to unknown motivations.

Now, a valid argument against torrents is that, you could just as well as use streaming services like Netflix or Hotstar or even Play Movies and support the studios/artists while also getting the same ease of use as torrents. The problem with those is internet availability. In my experience, free or at least unlimited internet access spots are like the oasis in Sahara. You know, those places with wells and palm trees you find if you walk a hundred kilometres through the desert? Only here, those places are either public where you have to pay to get decent speeds, or private, like a friend’s or your aunt’s house where you can’t go crazy because you ~don’t want to face their wrath~ value your relationship too much. Even if someone does have an unlimited internet connection in their home, it’s pretty hard to convince them to download Deadpool from Play Movies at 500 Rs when he/she could download it for free using torrents and with much less hassle(much more earlier too).

What these big studios fail to realize is that whatever revenue they lose due to copyright infringements, they’re getting back from under the radar publicity. And to those who talk about struggling artists, i ask this – What would a self respecting artist choose if it came right down to it? The opportunity to showcase his/her work to the world or to make money off it? Real artists don’t care about money! They care about their art & talent! I personally know people who would go crazy if they heard about a F.R.I.E.N.D.S/Breaking Bad reboot which is amazing considering the fact that these shows don’t even get reruns in TV these days. Likewise, we all have that friend who’s seen every Nolan/Tarantino movie ever made. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of some of the greatest minds of this generation who work day and night in every capacity – uploaders, seeders, site managers, owners etc. Every time the torrent community faced a crisis, they were there to carry on the legacy. Although the authorities can’t exterminate this community, their efforts are troubling, but mostly annoying. As a famous villain once said, “Cut off one head, two shall take it’s place”. So here is a thank you from me and everyone else who have ever benefitted from your services. And here are some potatoes for you, my dear reader, for enduring this rant for so long. 😉

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