Once, when Navya was a young girl, her grandmother had narrated the story of Padmavati – a legendary Rajput queen from the 14th century. She remembered how deeply she respected this woman for her honor, valor and grace. And as crazy as this may sound – when she listened to these stories, she would dwell so deep in them that she would talk like her, behave like her, sing and dance like her! she believed she was the queen Padmavati herself. Wanting to relive these moments; she used telegram to download the copyrighted version of the film “Padmaavat”.
Well, she’s not alone. Many others like her have discovered pirated content over Telegram.
Telegram – the popular messaging app that provides users with end-to-end encryption on their chats, has become the leading source for pirated content throughout Asia. This app is generally popular amongst activists, journalists, and whistle blowers; because it allows users to conceal their identity while sharing texts, videos, and other copyrighted content.
Telegram statistics as of 2021 reveal that it was the most downloaded app on Play Store and App Store with 500 million active monthly users and 63 million plus downloads globally. It’s also rated as a popular networking app in Malaysia according to App Annie and ranks at 3rd position in India.
So, with these many million active users; it is the root cause of considerable revenue loss for content creators while it is the preferred platform by pirates to distribute unlicensed content.
Pirates favour Telegram because it allows them to share data in encrypted chat groups that consist of 2,00,000 plus people; which in turn attracts millions of subscribers. It also prevents internet providers, telecom providers and the platform itself from decrypting conversations. The group chat also enables users to hide their phone numbers thus helping them conceal their identity.
Let’s check out some of the ways these pirates are exploiting Telegram:
- By Disguising: Due to the absence of an embedded player inside the platform – pirates can upload free videos on Telegram’s hosted cloud services, use its channels and groups to distribute text and M3U links to consumers. Further, to attract more users – pirates use recognised payment gateways such as Bitcoin, PayPal and they even add subtitles in various languages. They hide keywords pertaining to the content they have stolen and make use of code words in their messages to attract users by including references to private pirate channels.
- By Strategizing: A few minutes before a live-sporting event; these pirates not only spread new channels on Telegrams with new links consisting of illegal content but
they also have back-up channels readily available to consumers in case the first link gets removed.
Abandoning Ship: Pirates even send notifications to its users stating that a Telegram channel has been suspended because of copyright and provide instruction to follow a new channel. They even ask consumers to shift to other platforms and pirate sites by sharing links to the open web or to other platforms.
Pilfering the stream: As if live streams weren’t enough, pirates offer OTT subscribers with stolen credentials, hacked IPTV emulator channels where consumers can watch live channels without requiring a set-top box, and pirated APKs.
Producers and broadcasters spend huge amounts on their content and for purchasing sports rights. They should be confident that they can cover their costs and sustain their business in the long run. So, coming up with a strategy for anti-piracy requires a meticulous, forensic, intelligence-led approach to figure out complex pirate ecosystems that exist in various layers. We need to understand trends, unravel approaches and know the pirates’ behavioural patterns to win against them. Hence, the media industry needs to collaborate with government and law enforcement agencies to come up with stricter penalties and to make use of technologies like watermarking mandatory.
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AiPlex prides itself in being India’s first antipiracy company with more than 12+ years of domain expertise. It has helped take down infringed content across various platforms, verify over a million URLs, detect fake websites and provide content protection solutions for over 200+ content owners.