The rise and fall of Tamil Rockers: home of Indian pirated media

TechNews Writer
Mon Sep 19, 2022

Tamil Rockers is an internet pirate website that posts newly released movies on the first day they are available in theaters.

If anyone pirates or sells a product that is protected by copyrights in India, they will be fined three lakh Indian Rupees (INR) (300,000 INR) and sentenced to three months in jail, according to the 1957 CopyRight Act (Indian Act). In India, these illegal websites are restricted, but many people still easily access them. 

This website was part of the Bootleg Recording Network (BRN) in its early days. BRN refers to the practice of posting audio or video recordings before their official release. The act of copying and distributing such recordings is known as bootlegging. These websites use hidden cameras to record videos, which they then upload to CDs to distribute later.

According to Vox Exclusive, the southern Indian actor Rajinikanth's Indian movie "Shivaji" was widely pirated and distributed in the state of Tamil Nadu. The film was made available on the internet through several websites. During the film's release, internet usage also grew. Theatre owners were also made aware of the situation and tightened security by forbidding visitors from bringing cameras inside theaters. However, people managed to record movies by attending the theaters with less security. This recorded movie was posted to online websites. Movie piracy significantly escalated after that.

Numerous CD copies were being sold like hotcakes in the market as a result of the overwhelming demand for the unauthorized content. These pirated websites developed the concept of business expansion just like an entrepreneur would. They desired to enlarge their empire. They launched a public torrent website in 2011 where they uploaded the pirated media. Tamil Rockers is a website of this type. Both Indian and Hollywood pirated films were posted on this website. These websites have a significant market reach as a result. Strong storage was necessary for the recorded footage, thus the videos were converted into 720p and 1080p formats (display resolutions) using a powerful multi-core CPU (Central Processing Unit). The processor's speed has a significant impact on the conversion rate. The conversion rate influenced the upload speed. The posting of the most recent and recently released movies improved the website's popularity. Customers downloaded these unauthorized movies using magnet links or torrent files. 

Peer-to-peer sharing was enabled in magnet links and torrent files, making it easier for consumers to download movies. A minimum of 10 personnel were needed to manage these websites. These websites also employed a few individuals to secretly capture recently released films. The majority of those hired were students. For each movie, these websites paid 10,000 INR. The amount of unauthorized copies the student provided determined how much they were paid. Many students began doing this as a part-time job. As the days went by, the website grew in popularity and more people began taking up this job of pirating. Few people stopped doing this once they realized it was illegal. Since it was a quicker way to make more money, a few more joined to replace the ones that were discarded. As a result, it expanded into a vast network. 
Numerous movie makers suffered significant losses as a result of these pirated websites. However, thanks of these websites, a theatre was created for low-income and middle-class families that couldn't afford to pay to see movies in a physical theatre. These websites didn't have a purpose at first. By engaging in their illegal activities covertly they made money. However, many individuals began utilizing the internet after Jio (an Indian mobile network that offered internet services for affordable pricing) arrived. They became addicted to these pirated websites. 

Numerous film makers have complained about these websites, but to no avail. These websites made use of a number of security weaknesses, such as the ability to quickly launch a new website with an extended domain when a website is blocked. The money that the movie makers made was destroyed by these piracy websites. A cold war between Tamil Rockers and film companies began when the former engaged a secret agent to detain the owners of these stolen websites. Before the premiere of major film star movies, several websites launched an open challenge.

Numerous reports were made at the police station, but no one was able to capture the culprit. Since their films might be pirated, many movie creators were hesitant to speak about these piracy websites. These website administrators avoided detection by continually changing their domain names. Through the pop-up advertisements on their websites, these websites made money. The more people clicked on these pop-ups, the more money these websites made.

Five individuals were arrested by the police on March 15, 2018, following a thorough search. Two of them, according to the police reports, owned Tamil Rockers. The police inquiry revealed a lot of alarming information. In just five months these websites made two crores of Indian rupees. A Master's degree in Computer Science was held by one of the owners, and the others had earned their bachelor's degrees. Tamil Rockers was taken down on October 19, 2020.



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2022 - Fall - Issue 2