Emerging Bit Torrent Trends in India

Internet has been a revelation ever since its introduction. The writer in this blog examines how the progress made by Internet based technologies could never be reversed.

From Kazaa to The Pirate Bay

Little did the world of the VHS era realize in its time where the future of pirate technologies were heading to. The world's favourite music and films were quickly transferred onto optical discs as magnetic tapes went obsolete a few years before the end of the last century. Internet was soon to become the nemesis of discs, which were bulky to store and scratched easily. The first tryst with peer to peer technologies on networks sent shivers down the spine of Jack Valenti and the Motion Pictures Association of America. The speed of dissemination and distribution of content over the Internet was something the world had never seen before. The lawsuits against peer to peer networks such as Kaaza and Limewire ran into millions of dollars. Websites were shut down, but time and progress of technology could never be reversed. BitTorrent soon became the most common protocol to transfer content over the Internet. BitTorrent metafiles themselves do not store copyrighted data. Hence, BitTorrent itself is not illegal. However, its use to make copies of copyrighted material that contravenes laws in many countries has created many controversies, including the now famous Pirate Bay Trial in Sweden. The popularity of torrents though is not specific to the Western world. The strength of the Internet lies in its ability to generate content from any corner of the world which is then spread across the world through a web of distribution reaching many computers and granting them access to the content simultaneously.

Desi content on Torrent Networks

Desi : A term derived from Sanskrit, meaning region, province or country. It now refers to the people and culture of South Asian Diaspora.

On the most popular BitTorrent search engines, torrentz.com, Hindi and Hindi movies are permanent search tags. Often, one would even see the names of popular Bollywood releases such as Dev D, or at the time of writing this blog entry, Telegu Films, prominently displayed on the site. Bollywood and other content created in India and the rest of the subcontinent is driving the cyberspace. With a huge diaspora spread across every part of the world and increasing Internet penetration alongside rising broadband speeds in urban India, the demand for desi content on torrent networks is on the rise. Websites such as desitorrents.com and dctorrent.com are two torrent search engines that are popular amongst Internet users and cater exclusively to desi content. A closer look at the content on these sites reveal that the most popular content on these torrent networks are television shows, cricket matches, Bollywood movies, music and regional cinema. Torrent scenes such as aXXo are not unique to Hollywood uploads alone. Desi content has its own torrent scenes, responsible for uploading torrent trackers, as soon as the content is out in the public. Users identifying themselves as Jay, Captain Jack or Gunga Din are busy uploading these files on the desi networks.

Online since January 2004 and an Internet traffic rank of 7,302, an average visitor spends 8.3 minutes on the Desi Torrents site everyday. Relative to the general Internet population, the website has the highest number of male visitors in the age group of 18 to 34.

Most users are college graduates who prefer to access the website from home. In comparison, Desi Club Torrents, which is a free website has a younger representative web demographic with males between 18 to 24 years of age being the most prominent visitors. According to the data, it is also revealed that the website has a higher ratio of visitors who have not attended Graduate School but still have attended some college for education

Impact on the Traditional Markets

In most cases, the popularity of Bollywood films in cinema halls and on torrent sites seems to be linked. For example, the most successful Bollywood film of 2008, Ghajini, which ended up raking Rs. 200 crores on the box office, is also one of the most downloaded films on Bit Torrent Networks. However, for the Pirate selling DVD's of latest films, this is not great news. A majority of their customers have migrated to downloading films on the Internet using Peer to Peer technologies. The upper middle-class niche film watching audiences, have been the fastest to acquire computers and get on the Internet. Increasing broadband speeds have ensured that this segment of consumer transitions away from the traditional 'on the corner' pirate shop.