The sudden demise of the two biggest BitTorrent players -- website Kickass Torrents (KAT) and search engine Torrentz -- has left Torrent lovers in a limbo globally, including in India.
However, for the over-the-top (OTT) and video-on-demand (VOD) players in the country, this is good news as it will drive people away from downloading pirated content and bring them under the legal video-streaming umbrella.
Although still somewhat concerned over cloned torrent sites and restless users making a beeline there (as you read this, an alternate torrent website -- Torrentz2.eu -- is already up and running, offering the latest pirated movies, TV shows and video songs), the OTT players are upbeat.
"We find people are willing to pay a fair price for great content, delivered without hassle whenever they want it as opposed to resorting to illegal methods. Our push to secure global rights and release all originals simultaneously to our global members will help address piracy by those who simply want access to the latest movies and TV shows," a spokesperson for the popular video streaming service Netflix told IANS.
The outlook for the Indian OTT video content industry looks extremely positive. According to a recent report from market research firm Media Partners Asia (MPA), the OTT market in the country is expected to cross 100 million unique monthly users by 2020.
Is the Torrentz shutdown then a big blow to piracy?
"Active policing against piracy by content owners and a paradigm shift in content consumption from desktop to mobile will contribute to the eventual death of piracy. Users don't have to go through the hassle of downloading content illegally from torrent websites and make their systems vulnerable to cyber security threats," said Uday Reddy, CEO and Founder, YuppTV.
"YuppTV offers a legal and an affordable way to watch the video content. Moreover, OTT services provide users the convenience of watching content on any device at any time without having to download the same," Reddy told IANS.
However, for social media analyst and digital marketing strategist Anoop Mishra, the shutdown will not make a big difference because there are millions of torrent users active today on many search interfaces like The Pirate Bay which has become popular in the torrent community after the shutdown of KAT and Torrentz.
Let us understand how torrent works.
"On request, a tracker server like Torrentz.com tracks each and every peer -- people who are downloading or have downloaded files. A torrent programme like BitTorrent connects to this server and requests a list of peers," Mishra told IANS.
That programme then connects to peers who have already downloaded parts of the file which you still have to receive. Most programmes connect to a dozen peers at a time.
BitTorrent then keeps downloading little parts of the file from others and vice versa until you have a complete file.
This mechanism keeps the bandwidth down for servers but yet allows the distribution of files.
"Torrents have become very popular with software/media pirates because the file itself will never be located on a central server. Instead, it will be split over several user-PCs. This means you can't tackle it easily by shutting down one server," Mishra explained.
For him, the shutdown will make no real difference. "It will even help piracy websites/search engines to mushroom because a gain in users and torrent sites were noted during 2014 when The Pirate Bay was taken off for a while," he added.
Despite these doubts, OTT players are largely confident about a positive outcome.
According to Abhesh Verma, Chief Operating Officer, nexGTv, the OTT market has drastically transformed over the years giving a plethora of options to the audience to consume entertainment in seamless ways.
"The advent of OTT and VOD platforms have already changed the world for good. These platforms provide safe, user-friendly and immersive experiences for people to consume high-quality content from multiple genres without being concerned about finding, downloading and curating the content before actually enjoying it," Verma told IANS.
"With OTT and VOD players making it easier for the users to access high-quality shows and movies at affordable prices, movie buffs will have enough alternatives to gratify and entertain themselves," he pointed out.
According to Netflix, there has been a noticeable reduction in piracy in countries where it operates, such as the US and Canada.
Meanwhile, as you decide to click on a cloned torrent link for downloading the latest Hollywood flick, be warned of malicious content.