An Indian police raid has uncovered illegal tapping and unauthorised uploading of live television content to global websites, following information gathered by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL).
The raid, on premises in Lucknow on 22 May 2015, allegedly discovered stolen content from ZEE TV, Star Plus, Colors and Sony TV among other popular Indian channels, with more than 24 workers caught uploading illegal feeds and removing watermarks for pirate websites, said ZEEL in a statement.
Asif Siddiqui was arrested during the raid and equipment used in the alleged pirate operation was also seized, the broadcast group added.
"It took more than a year-long investigation and digital evidence gathering by ZEE's in-house IT security team to collect irrefutable evidence to identify humans behind the mask of these websites, which were hosted from Sweden," ZEEL said.
"According to open-source Web-based analytics, this particular group had more than ten lakh (one million) daily viewers and have been earning thousands of dollars every day," the statement added.
The targeted customers were mainly in the US, Canada and Europe, using websites such as desitvforum.net, ZEEL claims.
The broadcaster says the current laws are found wanting when it comes to tackling Internet piracy. Under the Copyright Act, IT Act 2000, piracy is categorised as a 'bailable' offence, though ZEEL is calling for this to be amended to 'non-bailable'. It should also, says ZEEL, be clarified as to whether signal theft can be regarded as theft of 'property' under section 379 of IPC.
"The need of the hour is to review these laws and introduce more stringent provisions to deal with such offences so that these provisions may act as an effective deterrent," said ZEEL.
The investigation into the Lucknow-based Internet operation is on-going.