The story of India's computer piracy hub

CIOL Bureau
New Update

NEW DELHI, INDIA: When a computer software costing over a thousand rupees is available in its pirated avatar for a few hundred rupees, the customer does not complain. No surprises. Police say action cannot be taken on the issue because they don't receive any complaint.


Again, no surprises!

Welcome to Delhi's Nehru Place, one of India's biggest hubs of computers and related goods. There is something for everyone here, right from pirated software and optical media to branded laptops and other goods.

From printers and laptops to pirated software


Riyaz, 24, used to sell pirated CDs of popular software and games in a south Delhi market till a few years ago. The business was so good that he now owns his own shop and the business continues to be 'zabardast' (terrific).

'I have everything here, printers, laptops and pirated software. If I don't have it I'll arrange it in a couple of hours,' Riyaz told a IANS correspondent sitting in his small basement shop.

Seated in front of three laptops connected to external hard disks, Riyaz was busy copying the cracked versions of various software and games on to the pendrives of the various customers who crowded the small room.


"This market is known for hardware shopping. But now software have taken over, especially for smaller players like us, as they are easy to deal in," Riyaz said as he copied an Adobe photoshop lightroom 3 software on to a pen drive.

To avoid trouble with police, regular customers are advised to bring along their pen drives or hard disks on to which the desired software is copied, he added.

According to sources, people like Riyaz, Rajesh, a "fielder" keeping a watch on police movements, and several others involved in piracy have rented rooms in nearby places like Lajpat Nagar, Amar Colony and Srinivaspuri.


Their rooms are full of laptops with Wi-Fi internet connections and dozens of CD writers.

Cracked versions of software are downloaded from the net and within minutes copied on to hundreds of discs, which are then brought to the market.

All this right under the nose of police, who have erected a number of pickets in the market and could be seen strolling around the place seemingly unaware of the illegal activities taking place around them.


"We pay haftas (weekly bribes) to the local policemen so they don't threaten us. The problem arises when some 'outsider' policeman comes here," said Anwar.

Armed with a list of pirated anti-virus programs, software and video games, he was shouting at the top of his voice, yelling out names and prices of the popular buys.

Asked if he was not afraid of police, Anwar said: "I've got my two 'fielders' there," pointing out to his associates who stood on the staircase a few feet above to watch out for any "outsider" policeman.


"We've got the latest software, including the ones for the Apple IPhone 4 at the best price in the market. Many of the shopkeepers buy from us when they are out of stock," Rajesh, one of the fielders, told IANS presuming that he got a potential customer.

Pay cheap rate and get a new version

The list contained details of software like CorelDRAW version 15, Microsoft office 2010, Pro Tools and Apple's Final Cut Studio among others, which cost thousands of rupees according to their websites.


But here you get it for anything between Rs.200 and Rs.800.

The customers were certainly not going to complain!

So it did not came as a surprise when a top police official in charge of the area cited "lack of complaints" as the reason for lack of action against the thriving piracy business in the market.

"We can act only when we receive a complaint," Additional Commissioner of Police V.S. Chahal told IANS.

He added that a special team, the District Investigation Unit, had been formed to deal with piracy issues in the market.

But again, he stressed, action could be taken only if it received complaints.

Nehru Place a notorious market: USTR

The Nehru Place market has been in news lately as the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Feb 28 listed the south Delhi hub as a "notorious market," terming it as a known dealer of large volumes of pirated software, optical media and counterfeit goods.

However, Chahal insisted that he had no knowledge of the list and had not read it and so could not comment on it.

The president of the All Delhi Computer Traders' Association, Mahinder Aggarwal, rebuffed the USTR list as well as the piracy tag attached to the market.

He claimed that none of the 1,300 registered members were involved in illegal activity. However, he did admit that there were some kiosks or petty stalls that indulged in it.

"The United States is the biggest supporter of piracy. There are hundreds of US sites that offer cracked versions of various expensive software in a bid to make them popular here. But it is only India that is blamed," Aggarwal told IANS.