India is experiencing a massive music piracy crisis with a record number of pirates taking advantage of its free streaming music service and a record-breaking rise in piracy, according to a new report by The Times Of India.

As of May 25, more than 3,000 websites in the country had been linked to pirated music files, with more than a third of them being used by the same pirate gangs.

A report by research firm Technomic found that a large number of sites linked to illegally downloaded music files were linked to the same IP address and subnet.

In the past six months, the number of torrent sites linking to pirate music had increased by almost 50 per cent, the report said.

According to Technomic, India is the third-largest music piracy market in the world, with about 8,500 sites linking illegally downloaded files to copyright-protected music.

It said the increase in piracy was not due to a lack of legal options or legal restrictions, but was the result of the increasing number of new sites linking pirated files to the popular streaming service.

Piracy is an increasingly serious threat to the industry, as it has increased by more than 50 per 100,000 in the past year, the Times of Indian report said, citing data from Piracy Monitor, a music piracy monitoring site.

“Piracy has been rising rapidly in India over the past few years, with music piracy and copyright theft accounting for the largest proportion of revenue for all online services in the market,” it said.

The number of online music sites linking the file to copyright is now more than triple the number in 2015, Technomic said.

“The recent increase in sites linking illegal files to music is an indication that the online music piracy landscape is beginning to change,” it added.

The report said that while India was a major player in the digital music market, it was in need of an effective response.

“We need to do more to help the industry to fight this problem, and provide better protection for consumers,” said Vikram Shah, director, policy and advocacy at Technomic.

The Indian government should act on a more comprehensive plan, it said, urging the government to establish an expert advisory panel to look into the issue and take action.

The government is also supposed to launch a National Copyright Enforcement Unit, which would coordinate with the country’s entertainment industry, including the music industry, to combat the problem.