n 2016, Maharashtra saw a massive growth in cyber crimes. The government responded by creating the Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit (MCDCU) and becoming the first state to launch a cyber police station in every district. A year later, the Maharashtra Intellectual Property Crime Unit (MIPCU) was created to specifically address intellectual property crimes. As more of our personal, business, and governmental affairs go digital, the more critical it is that we have a robust Digital Crimes Unit.
Maharashtra Cyber Security Project
The central government is committed to taking cybercrime seriously, but this needs to be implemented at a state level. As a result, the government of Maharashtra aimed to uphold this aspect of the law by creating the Maharashtra Cyber Security Project. In addition to creating cyber police stations in every district, the Maharashtra Cyber Project has the objective of creating cybercrime investigation labs, training all police officers to identify a cybercrime, and also create awareness among citizens of Maharashtra.
What is a Cyber Crime?
Cyber-crimes cover a broad spectrum of criminal activity that occurs online including: website hacking, cyber stalking, cyber pornography, software piracy, and online fraud. For the entertainment industry, the biggest cyber-crime – and one we are actively fighting every day – is that of online piracy.
Maharashtra Intellectual Property Crime Unit (MIPCU)
The Film & Television Producers Guild of India and the Motion Pictures Association of America – India (MPA) played a huge part in the creation of MIPCU. The two met with Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, and as a result the state government agreed to the formation of MIPCU. We needed this unit because while we already had anti-piracy laws in place, there was no proper machinery to implement them. With the MIPCU we have a team in place with the skillset, know-how, and resources to tackle piracy crimes effectively.
Taking Down Sites Pirating Content
One of the biggest responsibilities the Digital Crime Unit has is to take down websites that offer pirated movies, music and other digital content.
Within a month of setting up the Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit in August 2017, we identified 9000 websites where illegal content was being uploaded and distributed. Later, we shortlisted 1,300 sites to take legal action against.
Since April 2018, we have suspended 29 pirate websites. These sites were illegally distributing many Bollywood songs and movies. Thanks to the Digital Crime Unit these sites are no longer accessible anywhere in the world. These sites had tens of millions of viewers each month. By our estimates, taking these sites down will result an additional Rs. 8 crore revenue per month for the film industry by shifting users of these sites to official platforms. It’s important to recognize that by doing this, we will not only be protecting the film industry’s revenue, but also adding to taxable revenues which will benefit all citizens of Maharashtra.
Game of Thrones Leakage
One of the most notable crackdowns was that of Game of Thrones, Season 7, Episode 4 which leaked online two days prior to its US release. Star India and Novi Digital filed the complaint. With the collective efforts of Cyber & PAW, Government of Maharashtra, and the office of DCP (Cyber), BKC, Mumbai, we were able to gather and analyze information and material and make four arrests.
By making these arrests we are able to instill confidence in the Indian and international entertainment industry. Foreign production houses looking to collaborate with Indian companies for content creation need to know that they’re creative property will be protected. It also sends a clear message across industries that those who violate the law will pay the price.
The Continued Fight Against Online Piracy
Prior to the creation of these special units, individual producers would have to fight online piracy through John Doe court orders. As a result, they might be able to block their own content from appearing on some of these websites, but often it was a “too little too late” situation as far as revenues were concerned. Now, the Digital Crime Unit is able to expedite the process as well as proactively fight digital crime even before a complaint is filed.
If other states follow suit in creating their own digital cells, we could more effectively tackle this vast problem. With the support of the central and state government, the entertainment industry, and other stakeholders such as MPA, we will to continue the fight against illegal digital distribution of content.