PikaShow: Police Arrest Student After Free Piracy App Drew Global Attention
As Android-based piracy apps go, streaming app PikaShow ticks most of the usual boxes.
Compatible with smartphones, tablets and set-top boxes, PikaShow allows users to stream live TV channels in excellent quality or download the latest movies and TV shows for offline viewing.
For those with a preference for larger screens, PikaShow allows casting. Subtitles are also available, meaning that PikaShow can be enjoyed by viewers worldwide. The downside for PikaShow is that expanded reach means irritation for overseas rightsholders, not just local ones.
Disney, Star India, MPA, USTR
In 2022, the existence of the PikaShow app became intolerable for Disney Star, a wholly-owned Indian subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. After a criminal complaint to the Tamil Nadu Police Cyber Cell failed, Disney filed a First Information Report (FIR) with the Bengaluru Cyber Cell, alleging various crimes under computer abuse and copyright laws.
PikaShow didn’t shut itself down – it doubled down instead. After becoming the official sponsor of the Afghan cricket team during Asia Cup 2022, PikaShow was able to advertise its pirate streaming app via legal TV broadcasts watched by millions of people.
Describing this as a bold move would be a significant understatement.
Through its team sponsorship deal, PikaShow was able to advertise its pirate services on Star India’s official TV broadcasts of Asia Cup 2022. This meant that Disney effectively paid to advertise a pirate app it was already pursuing in a criminal action for illegally streaming its licensed content.
Adding insult to injury, PikaShow streamed Star India’s official TV broadcasts to its own users for free.
Rising Pressure, High Court Injunction
In the wake of its TV stunt, the MPA reported PikaShow to the United States Trade Representative. After targeting PikaShow in a May 2022 civil complaint, Star India filed a criminal complaint with the police in Delhi and then followed up with another copyright complaint at the High Court in Delhi.
In November 2022, the Court issued a broad injunction restraining the operator(s) of PikaShow. Companies doing business with PikaShow were ordered to hand over all available information on its operator. Registrars were told to suspend PikaShow’s domains, and every ISP in India received blocking instructions (pdf).
PikaShow didn’t shut itself down. But, as the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20.
Police Arrest College Student
On Saturday, Anoop Shetty, Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East Division, Bengaluru City, confirmed the arrest of a man in northern India in connection with the PikaShow app.
“We have arrested Shisharam Badiya from his native place Rajasthan for copyright violation based on a complaint by Star India,” Shetty said.
According to Economic Times, the suspect is a college student who was arrested after police traced his cellphone number. He stands accused of illegally streaming Star India and Disney+ Hotstar content via PikaShow and monetizing those pirate streams through advertising.
While comments on Indian discussion platforms are a mixed bag, news of the arrest doesn’t appear to be generating much sympathy. Some suggest that monetizing pirated content was the problem, while others suggest that the only mistake was not escaping with the money. One poster simply expressed sadness at students destroying their futures.
Predictably, some comments note that since apps tend to come and go, others will appear to take PikaShow’s place. Whether PikaShow survives this or not (there’s no confirmation either way), PikaShow’s ‘place’ has been under threat for a while now.
At the time of writing, there are at least 100 domains with obvious ‘PikaShow’ branding. Dozens claim to offer the official app, but a hash value comparison of various APK files tells a very different story. There are a thousand pieces of advice for staying safe online, but if a site introduces its product with a flat-out lie, things won’t get any better from there.
From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.