TamilRockers, one of India’s most famous piracy websites, was blocked on October 20. But many believe that the website, which has a notorious reputation in film industries, especially the Tamil film industry, will be back soon.
“It is impossible to curb piracy without stringent government regulations. They [TamilRockers] will surely be back, until and unless stricter laws are enforced,” said Kaushik Rajaraman, a film journalist for six years.
“The film industry has faced severe losses because of TamilRockers. In 2018-19, the industry may have lost at least Rs 150 crore. The risk is always higher for superstar movies. Kabali, which released in 2016, faced huge losses as it leaked just before its release date and sites like TamilRockers had a strong hand in that,” added Rajaraman.
TamilRockers, which launched in 2011, was blocked after it allegedly released Amazon Prime content. Soon after, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), on behalf of Amazon, sent multiple notices of infringement and takedown under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of USA.
The piracy website is known to be in battle with the government as well as the Tamil film industry. And this means being blocked several times a year. Its response to this: operate from a different web addresses. While arrests have been made in connection with TamilRockers, the founders and main operators remain unknown.
How does it earn and pay
It is estimated that the website could be earning around 80 lakh per month from ads and direct downloads. In 2017, the website generated around Rs 250 crore per year with an investment of around Rs 8 lakh.
Each individual is paid based on how many times their copy of a movie is downloaded. This is based on how recent the movie is, how much buzz surrounds it, and its audio and video quality. With the rise of OTT owing to the pandemic, many websites have pirated OTT content too.
“It’s way easier to pirate content from OTT platforms. In theatres, they had to find ways to record, but for OTT all they need is some software,” said the journo.
“During the pandemic, when people are consuming more OTT content, these piracy websites become great alternatives. Why would someone pay for packages and subscriptions if they can watch it for free?” questioned Rajaraman.
The website has been under the radar of The Tamil Nadu Film Producers’ Council’s anti-piracy cell. Not only does TamilRockers release big budget movies within hours, it also has challenged movies like 2.0. It released the movie’s pirated version the same day of the release.
Despite all its ill fame, TamilRockers is still loved. “I have been using the platform for six years and I prefer it because a plethora of series and movies are free of cost. Just-released movies are updated in hours. This is terrible for producers and actors, but still useful for us viewers,” said Giri Babu, a 27-year-old photographer.
“TamilRockers will make a comeback soon. It has been finding ways around bans for a long time,” ended Babu.