Hyderabad police has arrested four people – between 19 and 24 years in age – for their involvement in acquiring pirated movies, making copies, and uploading them on a website for monetary gain, reports TorrentFreak (via @ScepticGeek). The website in question is forum called Torrentrockerz.com (which, at the time of filing this story, is inaccessible). As per a press note from the Hyderabad Police, the Torrentrockerz forum is maintained and moderated by Vijay Prabanj Reddy, whose team uploads torrents and lists the details on the forum, and “Through this site (Torrentrockerz) the members are collecting huge amounts from the Anti Piracy Cell for deleting movie from their site.” Others arrested include people involved with creating unlicensed copies of films and distributing them. The statement below lists 42 movies that have been listed on the site over the past two years.

This is, as far as we know, the first case filed related to torrents in India, and as TorrentFreak points out, last week, two Indian films Golmaal 3 and Action Replayy made it to the weekly Top 10 of most downloaded movies on BitTorrent. A few points:

– What is piracy? It’ll be interesting to see what the police deems as an act of piracy – while making and distributing unlicensed copies for profit might be illegal, maintaining a forum where external links to torrents are listed is probably not. If a merely linking out to content means that you’re not liable for externally hosted content (we believe that should be the case), then it means that the primary beneficiary of such linking goes scot free, unless a direct relationship between the site and the pirates is established (as has been the attempt in this case).

– Extortion? The police states that the forum was collecting money from the Anti Piracy Cell for “deleting movie” (I assume they mean deleting links) from their site. So the Anti Piracy Cell actually pays people to remove links? That’s asking for trouble.

– Is downloading pirated content in India illegal? Nandita Saikia makes an argument – a speculative one she says – about downloads may be legal for personal and private use.

Film producers and distributors tend to release movies on DVD, VCD and TV a little later than they are released on the silver screens, in order to protect the interests of the multiplexes. This leaves a significant market gap for pirates to exploit. With the advent of 3G, we’d like to see immediate digital delivery of films across platforms take shape. Remember that Bharti Airtel is already in the digital delivery business, looking at a cross-platform play.

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The statement from the Hyderabad Police below, reproduced from their website, via Torrentfreak.

!!! UPLOADING RECENTLY RELEASED MOVIES IN TO WEBSITE – FOUR MEMBER GANG NABBED – SEIZED 1400 PIRATED CDS !!!

On 20-11-2010, on credible information the sleuths of Commissioner’s Task Force, North Zone Team, Hyderabad conducted raids and apprehended a four member gang who are indulging in acquiring latest pirated movies CDs making copies and also uploading a website for monetary gain and seized two CD copiers / duplicators, two C P Us and 1016 number of CDs / DVDs of Telugu, Hindi and English from their possession.

Details of Accused Persons:-

1. Mohd. Imran @ Hameed S/o Mohd. Rafeeq, age: 20 years, Occ: CDs sales boy, R/o Near Kings Bakery, Phoolbagh, Chandrayangutta, Hyderabad.

2. G. Gopal Reddy s/o Rama Krishna Reddy, age: 24 years, R/o H.No: 17-2-25/2/72, Shahilal Thota, Madannapet, Hyderabad.

3. B. Yeshwanth @ Yogi S/o Arun Sai, age: 19 years, Occ: Student, R/o H.No: 12-13-830/13, Flat No: 102, Creatives Gummadi Nilayam, Gokul Nagar, Street No:1, Tarnaka, Hyderabad.

4. D. Vijay Prabhanj Reddy S/o Konda Reddy, age: 22 years, Occ: Student, R/o Flat No:T-01, JHK Enclave, B. S Maqta, Somajiguda, Hyderabad; N/o Near Srinivasa Theatre, Pulivendula (V), Y. S. R Kadapa Dist.

Brief Facts of the Case:-

Md. Imran is a native of Hyderabad and professionally a carpenter. As income sources through carpentry work are meager, he is distributing pirated CDs to different CD shop centers on commission basis. He was earlier arrested by Chikkadpally Police in similar offence.
Gopal Reddy is a native of Hyderabad and professionally he is a technician. As the competition picked up his income sources fell down and since then he is indulging in preparation of pirated CDs in his own house. He was also earlier arrested by Patancheru Police in similar offence.
Yashwanth @ Yogi is a native of Hyderabad and pursuing his B. Com first year course. He is an active team member of “TORRENTROCKERZ” a website and uploading the recently released movies of various languages in the above website illegally. He is also an active member of “DESITORRENTS.Com” in which website also he is uploading movies.

Vijay Prabanj Reddy is a native of Pulivendula Taluq of Kadapa District. He has completed his Engineering course in IT from TRR College, Patancheru. He is a DJ of “Torrentrockerz” and moderates the website i.e maintenance of the website, moderating threads, adding and deleting the team members and pursuance of advertisements.

Modus operandi:-

“TORRENTROCKERZ.COM” domain was registered at “Godaddy.Com” in the month of December 2008. Basically the above website is created as a competitor to the already existing websites “Tollytorrents.Com”, “Desitorrents.Com”, “Tollyzone.Com” etc. Mostly the recently released movies of different languages are uploaded in this website to overcome the competition and also to attract the visitors and improve the ranking thereby to attract the advertisers and make money.

In this process the accused Yashwanth is procuring the pirated CD / DVDs of recently released movies and MP3 songs of released audios. Through such CDs and DVDs he is uploading the pictures in “TORRENTROCKERZ.COM” and also in “Desitorrents.com” in the name of Torrentrockerz team. He is procuring the pirated CDs from Mohammed Imran who in-turn is procuring them from Gopal Reddy and selling them to different CD shops and known customers on commission basis. Gopal Reddy is procuring one copy of pirated CD of latest movies from one Manish @ Giri @ Gabbar of Dhoolpet and making copies of CDs / DVDs with the help of CD duplicator / writer and supplying them to different CD shops through his agents. The movies are uploaded in the website within one or two days of their release in cinema theatres.

Once the movie is uploaded by team members like Yashwanth, Vijay Prabhanj Reddy checks the uploaded movie and verifies the clarity. If there are any errors and lack of clarity in the uploaded movie he deletes it from the site. By uploading the latest movies he is trying to improve the rankings of the site and attract the advertisers and thereby improve the revenue sources. Through this site the members are collecting huge amounts from the Anti Piracy Cell for deleting movie from their site.

So far many of the released movies were uploaded in this website prior to the release of their CDs / DVDs. Recently released movies like Robo, Komaram Puli, Khaleja, Brindavanam, Katti, Hisssss, Action Replay, Golmal 3, Raktha Charitra, Prathiroju, Collector gari Bharya were uploaded in their site. Apart from the above, movies like Apthamitra, Maryada Ramanna, Yamudu, Endhiran, Love Guru, Savari, Pancharangi, Bhairava, Gaalipata, Birugali, Kallara Santhe, Rama Rama Krishna Krishna, Ik Kudi Punjab Di, Yaagam, Thakita Thakita, Gayam 2, Gudu Gudu Ganjam, Subhapradam, Lawrence, Happy Happy ga, Badmash, Peepli Live, DS, Aisha, Kothimuka, Maa Annayya Bangaram, Prasthanam, Snehageetham, Bheemli, Varudu, Jhummandi Naadam of different languages were also uploaded in the site during the past two years with in one or two days of the release of the above movies.

The arrested accused persons along with the seized property were handed over to SHO, Madannapet Police Station for taking necessary action.

The above raids were conducted by Sri V.Shyam Babu, Inspector of Police, North Zone Task Force, Sub-Inspectors of Police, S/Sri S.Giri Prasad, Y. Nageshwar Rao, K.Madhu Mohan Reddy and the Staff of North Zone Task Force Team, Hyderabad under the supervision of Sri V.B.Kamalasan Reddy, Dy. Commissioner of Police, Task Force, Hyderabad City.

Dy.Commissioner of Police,
Commissioner’s Task Force,
Hyderabad City.