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Download Syndrome

Choice has shrunk for virtual Jack Sparrows—alas, writes Martand Badoni. Then there’s Netflix.

Download Syndrome
Photograph by Narendra Bisht
Download Syndrome
outlookindia.com
2016-11-03T20:32:59+05:30

Till about ten months ago, if you had decent internet speed and wanted to watch a relatively new film or a TV show, all you had to do was type the title in and there you were—Putlocker, Dailymotion, Solarmovies. You were spoilt for choice. These websites would stream a film without bothering too much about copyright, which, you thought, were taken seriously only by the US and Europe. Soon, however, we were being dead-ended—on your screen would spring the sign ‘Request Denied’, and a copyright notice would show on your browser. Was the digital content party and digital ‘free’-dom over? What made the government suddenly wake up to online copyright infringement, something we were happy not to understand too well?

Then one saw the commercials everywhere proclaiming that Netflix was coming to town. Perhaps the multinational entertainment giant, which offers a channel by monthly subscription, thought it would feel ignored with all the free content floating around unchecked in this country. You see, in the past decade of the internet era, most of us were not used to paying for anything online other than the monthly rentals. But like a sincere MNC, Netflix had done its homework. It’s a quaint twist indeed that it was what would essentially be termed piracy—whether by downloading or display without permission—that created the fertile, ready ground for the entry of Netflix here.

The familiarity with American TV shows that the Indian urban audience has today is largely due to ‘illegal’ internet downloads. Illegal downloads, though far from being put to an end, are in a rough phase these days, the most recent blow being the shutdown of KAT (Kickass Torrents) and the recent arrest of Artem Vaulim, its alleged founder. Anyway, for the last ten years, we were downloading all our...

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