The act of unauthorized copying of content begins with Mozart and extends to torrent. Jason R Ingram describes digital piracy as,
Digital piracy refers to the illegal act of duplicating, copying, or sharing a digital work without the permission of the copyright holder, a violation of copyright laws (Copyright Office of the United States 2008). Digital piracy grew out of computer hacking. In the mid-1970s, computer hobbyists began copying and distributing hard copies of computer software and games”. The late 21 st century demands for movies more than any other content. The illegal uploading of such movies in mass began by the dawn of this decade and now formulated to a chain of notorious crime on the internet. 123Movies are the flag bearer of such websites for a long time.
The uncertainty of the location of the creator and the website admins make the federal organizations hard to trace them. Different countries follow different rules and regulations regarding pirated contents. Though they all share the same core. This also hinders the rapid destruction of such sites. The infamous Vietnam Ian movie pirating site 123movies harmed not only the box office of Vietnam but also every movie industry from Hollywood to Bollywood for the past five years.
The rise of 123movies
123movies was a movie streaming website with pirated files across the world. It was originated in Vietnam by a group of youngsters. The site was established by early 2015 worldwide. During the peak time, there was an estimated user surge of ninety-eight million at a time. The domain went through multiple name changes till the date. 123Movies,123movies etc. During October 2016, the MPAA (motion picture association of America) blacklisted the site as online Notorious Markets and reported to United States trade representatives (USTR). The MPAA overview towards the USTR, Joanna McIntosh the Executive Vice President of Global Policy and External Affairs of USA stated that,
“ 123movies is a viral streaming website that embeds popular movie and series content from third-party cyberlockers. The site uses multiple TLDs for the purpose of circumventing site blocking actions, as declared by the website administrator. The site has a global Alexa rank of 559 and a local rank of 386 in the U.S. 123movies.to had 9.26 million worldwide unique visitors in August 2016 according to SimilarWeb data. The site is currently using a chain of reverse proxy services in the United States, Iran and Romania to curb rights holders’ ability to identify its precise host”
The world market
The popularity and accessibility to the website around the globe increased in the blink of an eye. The pirated copy of the motion pictures was available at different quality, including High Definition (HD), HD-RIP, BLU RAY, and camera qualities. Different file sizes are also available for the same file. Top ten grossed movies along with the worldwide collection in theatre pirated through 123movies are following.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” — $675 million worldwide
“Suicide Squad” — $745.6 million
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — $746.1 million
Deadpool” — $783.1 million
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — $873.2 million
“The Secret Life of Pets” — $875.4 million
“Captain America: Civil War” — $1.153 billion
“The Jungle Book” — $966.5 million
“Zootopia” — $1.023 billion
“Finding Dory” — $1.027 billion
Popular Bollywood movies downloaded through 123movies during 2016 alone are,
Dangal – 325 crore+
Sultan 301.5 crore
M S Dhoni: The Untold Story 133.5 crore
Airlift 129 crore
Rustom 128 crore
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil 112.5 crore
Housefull 3 109 crore
Baaghi 77 crore
Neerja 75.65 crore
Kapoor & Sons 73.3 crore
The Hollywood is the second-largest target of the 123movies. The Korean movies and dramas are widely spread through illegal sites and have led the industry into a financially fragile state during 2016-2017. The Hollywood fans around the world download contents illegally, the Himalayas and the violent prosecutor are the top grossed movie that leaked via 123movies in 2016.
In response to MPAA’s complaint the office of united states trade representatives replied.
“while the site was technically hosted from Ukraine that: “The site takes numerous steps to hide the identity of the operator, including using Cloudflare, but there is strong reason to believe the operator is still in Vietnam; content is uploaded using cyberlockers from numerous email accounts originating from can tho university of medicine and pharmacy.”
The major source of income of the website is through commercial advertisements. The brands around the world, promoting the illegal contents and products along with directing to similar websites are the primary source of income of 123movies. The reappearance occurred after every disappearance, followed by the legal battle—no arrests recorded till the date in connection with this site.
The Fall of 123movies
By 2016 through the report from the Business Insider, United Kingdom was the first country to ban 123movies since it was the most used pirate site in the United Kingdom. By October of 2018, Vietnam launched an investigation against 123movies. In 2017 TorrentFreak reported that the United States Vietnam diplomat Ted Osius had a discussion with the minister of information and communication of Vietnam Truong Minh Tuan about 123movies in specific. Even though there isn’t any official proof regarding this meeting, soon the down shutting process was initiated, and within days 123movies was banned in Vietnam.
The Black Market Of Movies
123movies is active in another domain name in the black markets of movies or the torrent sites. The law prohibits access to the site through any means. The popular VPN or tor pathways are also illegal gates. However, millions of people around the world are using 123movies for pirated movie downloads. The enormous number of users make the law impractical to work. It’s impossible to arrest everyone. Notwithstanding the people who spread the word through social media or sharing the pirated link are taken down by the law of every country in a matter of moment.
The Legal Battles of 123movies
On march of 2018 to the surprise of the world followed by the MPAA statement 123movies posted the following notification on their webpage
“We’ve been providing links to movies and shows for years. Now it’s time to say goodbye. Thank you for being our friends and thanks for staying
with us that long,” the website wrote on a banner counting down to the closure of the site. “PS: Please pay for the movies/shows, that’s what we should do to show our respect to people behind the movies/shows.”
There are over 25000 registered case at information and communication
wing of different countries. No investigations are ongoing regarding 123movies at present. The anonymity behind the site is the main reason. Cloning of the sites, mirroring and working on the deep web impedes the governments and cybercrime departments of countries from a competent and permanent cessation of the right owners to the website.
Authorized film streaming sources
- amazon prime
- HBO NOW
- HBO ON
The real victims of the pirated content are the production houses and the background staff of a movie or any motion picture. The remunerations of the actors cannot be decreased since they are agreed upon legally. The loss of the profit will directly hit the producers and others involved, including the distribution of the movie. The encouragement of such films helps 123movies make millions from the advertisements alone while the real industry which puts forward art suffers. This cannot be erased overnight. Paying the right gratitude to the exploration of art and encouraging them is necessary. If the movie streaming websites are fair and reasonable, the number of people who run after the pirated content will be less. This is a serious matter that should get national attention. The movies downloaded sitting in the comfort zone are a product of the hard work of numerous people for more than a year. After every legal accusation, 123movies temporarily moves out of the game and comes back with almost the same name in less than an hour in another mirror site. No industry is excluded in this crime. Educating people about the legal side regarding the copyrights and pirates is an effective way of stopping the spread of such unlawful contents across the world. The limiting factors are higher, VPN is recognized by the law, and it’s impossible to stop people from using it.
Around 53 per cent of the pirated sites are blocked in Australia in 2019 alone. The number of users to the pirated websites has decreased to 25% soon after the Australian Site-Blocking Efficacy Report produced by online analysis company INCOPRO in 2018-2019. From attracting international attention and ending up in the blacklist of many countries, 123movies had a long journey of five years. Frequent shutdowns and rebirth in new names won’t let them float on the surface again. No countries support the spread and use of pirated contents. Every judiciary has loopholes when it comes to cyber law. The last time 123movies was reported was 20th of June 2020, with another proxy site. But soon after the launch, the website was blocked on copyright issues around the world. Pirating is a severe crime with a legal penalty, thou shall not be entertained.
On October 2018 Charles Rivkin CEO of MPAA concluded in the letter to Sung Chang, director for intellectual property and innovation says “An important development in 2018 was the shuttering of a ring of piracy services that had operated under the names 123movies, 123movieshub, gostream, and gomovies following the launch of a criminal investigation in Vietnam and significant industry engagement. Since its closure, many copycat sites have emerged. This ring of piracy services had been blocked in at least eight countries prior to its shut down and efforts are underway to shut down the copycats as well”