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Last Updated : Jan 11, 2019 05:07 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Govt, film industry continue war on piracy but illegal online movie releases still rampant

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposed an amendment to the Copyright Act in which the accused will face punishment of three years with a fine of Rs 10 lakh

Maryam Farooqui @farooqui_maryam

Piracy has given the film industry sleepless nights and there seems to be no solution to put a stop to this. In 2018, big releases like 2.0, Simmba, Maari 2, fell prey to this menace. Rajinikanth's latest offering Petta too has been hit by piracy. And that’s not all. Piracy is impacting the industry globally.

According to Tecxipio, a Germany-based data analytics company, interest in downloading Hindi movies increased by nearly 30 percent in four years between 2013 and 2017. Among Hindi films in 2018, Padmaavat was most shared in P2P networks with 73 lakh shares between January and June in 157 days. Other Hindi films that saw high downloads and shares last year include Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (52.65 lakh), Baaghi 2 (52.34 lakh), PadMan (46.03 lakh), Raid (45.60 lakh), among others.

International markets where piracy of Bollywood films is rampant include Tanzania and Ireland. According to data analysis by Tecxipio, number of Hindi movie downloads in Tanzania grew by around 250 percent between 2013 and 2017. As for the European market, Ireland tops the list with 100 percent growth.    

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Further on the list, Macedonia, Germany, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Turkey also feature in the list of European countries with growing demand for Bollywood films in terms of downloads and P2P sharing.

The international distribution of movies in Indian languages has become increasingly important. The overseas distribution circuit realized almost Rs 1,090 crore in 2016, which corresponds to a 14 percent increase compared to the previous year's revenues, as KPMG stated in its 2017 M&E industry analysis report. That being said, overseas revenues constitute 8 percent share of the entire industry volume and one reason for this low contribution could be piracy of Indian films abroad.

However, Tecxipio suggests that media and entertainment industry firms can boost their businesses and leverage file-sharing data using new market research tools.

On the home turf too, piracy continues to be one of the major issues affecting the Indian film industry with an annual loss of substantial revenues, to the tune of around Rs 18,000 crore every year accompanied by a loss of 60,000 jobs every year, according to 2017 KPMG report, titled Media for the masses: The Promise unfolds.

Recently, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) proposed an amendment to the Copyright Act to check film piracy in which the accused will face punishment of three years with a fine of Rs 10 lakh.

Industry players have welcomed this move and said such a step was long overdue as internationally there is legislation that covers use of camcorders. However, some are of the opinion that this will not put a stop to piracy but will act as a deterrent and that the amendment will strengthen the hands of law enforcement agencies.

Some are also of the opinion that Goods and Services Tax (GST) should be brought down on movie tickets which will help curb piracy. Movie tickets will become affordable and people may stop visiting illegal sites.

In the past too, strict measures were taken to deal with this issue. The anti-piracy efforts of the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce and the Telangana government resulted in setting up of the country’s first anti-piracy unit called Telangana Intellectual Property Crime Unit (TIPCU) in June 2016.

The local film industry suffered losses of more than Rs 360 crore in 2016 because of online piracy and pre-release leaks. This unit makes optimum use of technology besides policy enforcement and outreach and forms a sustained platform to bridge communication between industry stakeholders, ISPs, policy makers, enforcement agencies aided by legal and financial experts to fight software piracy.

However, the problem still persists. The KPMG report states that increased penetration of smartphone devices and cheaper data charges have made the situation worse. Even sophisticated technologies like watermarking of prints, which allow producers or rightholders to monitor usage and movement of each print across the globe, have not been able to stop the menace.

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First Published on Jan 11, 2019 05:07 pm
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