Anti-piracy cell of the State Crime branch will write to private companies, facilitating payments and money transfers through internet, to provide details of the e-commerce accounts of website owners who profit from online Malayalam movie piracy.

Investigators say this will help them ascertain the real world identities and Indian passport numbers of the “handful” of movie pirates, most of them Keralites settled abroad, who rake in lakhs of rupees in foreign exchange annually by illegally distributing pirated versions of latest Malayalam releases online.

“Once we establish the true identity of the movie pirates, the Crime Branch will seek the help of the Interpol to secure the custody of the racketeers to prosecute them under Indian law,” an official says.

The agency now have the suspected online identities of the website owners and administrators, who go by fancy names such as Satan, Don, Casanova Guru and so on.

The website owners charge their registered members an annual subscription fee to make pirated movies available to them online. The movie pirates also augment their revenue by hosting advertisements on their websites.

Crime branch investigators say they have already requested major e-payment businesses in India to shut down the payment routes to foreign-based website owners who sell pirated Malayalam movie content online.

They will also advise legitimate businesses in India and abroad to desist from advertising their services and products on such pirate-run websites.

Investigators say the movie pirates pay, through online banking channels, a set of computer and internet hobbyists in Kerala, mostly students, to upload latest films released on CD and DVD formats and also “camcorder prints” of latest Malayalam films to their websites.

This year, the cell tracked at least 15 students who were regular contributors to online Malayalam movie piracy websites. Many of them told the police that they had uploaded films merely to receive “laudatory messages” from other registered members.

Investigators say there is a possibility that some of the websites are run by “radical elements” who may be channelling the illegitimate revenue from online movie piracy for their “non-Kerala specific” political causes.