Delhi Police busts content piracy racket, seizes 50 unauthorised STBs

Raids were conducted following complaints by major broadcasters like Star India, Viacom18 and ZEEL

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: Aug 5, 2021 12:37 PM
delhi police

The District Investigation Unit (DIU) of Delhi Police recently busted a major anti-piracy racket by seizing 50 unauthorised set-top boxes (STBs) from Old Lajpat Rai Market in Chandni Chowk. These unauthorised STBs, which are also known as kodi boxes, are capable of offering TV as well as over the top (OTT) content illegally.

The police conducted raids on July 23 following complaints by major broadcasters like Star India, Viacom18 and ZEEL among others. The broadcasters filed First Information Reports (FIRs) under the Copyright Act 1957 against shops and establishments that were selling these illegal STBs.

Delhi-based management consulting company Netrika Consulting India, which works with Star India, Viacom18 and ZEEL, aided the broadcasters and the police in conducting the raids. During its market surveys, Netrika shared leads about shops in Old Lajpat Rai Market that were selling Kodi boxes. Old Lajpat Rai Market is Asia’s largest wholesale electronics market.

Post verification, the agency reached out to its clients with details of channels that were available on these unauthorised STBs. Subsequently, a case of copyright violation got registered against the guilty parties, which resulted in a raid by Delhi police's DIU. Following the raid, the authorities seized over 50 boxes from four shops.

“It is a copyright violation case. We identified four outlets which were selling these boxes. Following that, we filed a complaint along with our clients which includes Star, Viacom18 and Zee. Following the complaints, the police has taken action,” Netrika MD Sanjay Kaushik told exchange4media.

He further stated that China is the hub of these illegal STBs. “These imported boxes from China and are then sold in markets like Lajpat Rai Market. From there, these boxes get supplied to different parts of India. Once you install and download a couple of apps, you can bypass the traditional distribution system and access premium TV and OTT content for free. Apart from broadcasters, the government is also losing revenue due to piracy,” Kaushik stated.

Recently, the Maharashtra Cyber Cell had arrested Satish Venkateshwarlu, the Hyderabad-based founder of Thop TV, which offered pirated broadcast and OTT content. Thop TV had built a strong user base in the last two years. The app had lakhs of viewers besides 5,000 paid subscribers. Thop TV charged a nominal subscription fee of Rs 35 from its users.

“We also did the investigation in the Thop TV case, which got busted recently, and its founder got arrested,” Kaushik noted.

Kodi box is a term loosely used for defining various kinds of Illicit Streaming Devices (ISD) boxes that are Wi-Fi enabled and can be used for illegal and unauthorised hosting/streaming of content, including content available on TV channels. The price of these boxes range between Rs 850 and Rs 4,500.

These ISD boxes can be easily purchased through various e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Indiamart as well as physical wholesale or retail stores across the country. Research indicates that these boxes are available in several states including, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

With the help of law enforcement agencies, the anti-piracy teams of broadcasting companies have conducted raids in states like Delhi, Chhattisgarh, UP, Gujarat and West Bengal against the whole sellers/retailers of these boxes. The cases have been registered under the relevant sections of Indian Penal Code 1860, The Copyright Act 1957 and The Information and Technology Act 2008. Through these raids, the authorities have seized over 300 such rogue ISD boxes.

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