The film industry is reeling under losses due to online piracy and this needs immediate attention from the government. There is a general lack of focus and importance given to IPR in India, especially for film content copyright. An effective legal framework is needed, which is currently lacking.
Also, there is a general lack of clarity and awareness about the Copyright Law among the enforcement agencies. This results in weak enforcement on ground. The priority given to copyright enforcement by the law enforcement agencies is also less in India.
Another roadblock with digital piracy is that our system is not geared to combat the menace. The objectives of filmmakers are at crossroads with the objectives of ISPs. In general, more piracy means huge data traffic for an ISP and hence lesser cooperation with the law-enforcement agencies, further weakening anti-piracy activities.
Piracy is rampant in India. According to a study, the Indian film industry loses around Rs.18,000 crore ($2.7 billion) and over 60,000 jobs every year due to piracy. This loss is almost 35 per cent more than the legitimate size of the Indian film industry. In recent times, pre-release leaks have become a recurring phenomenon, which is disturbing. This is further aggravated by a lack of strong legal framework, resulting in huge losses for all players in the value chain.
More than the loopholes, it is weak enforcement on-ground by the law-enforcement agencies and the lack of priority given to IPR in general in India that encourages piracy.
The Union Cabinet recently approved India’s first Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy. It remains to be seen how soon the objectives of the IPR policy are achieved with respect to the Media & Entertainment industry by setting up a strong legal framework. Efficient implementation and focused approach towards handling this menace will be the key here.
Currently, many legal sources are available to consume content. This certainly helps curb piracy to some extent. Also, with a plethora of such services in the pipeline, with good quality content, consumers could prefer such legal destinations instead of resorting to piracy. This means added data traffic for ISPs which could incentivise them to cooperate with law-enforcement agencies as they would not be losing out.
A dedicated ‘copyright cell’, where complainants can register all complaints relating to copyright infringement can help bring much-needed focus to tackling piracy. Also, police officers in the country need to be oriented towards the importance of IPR and the corresponding losses associated with it.
We have an on-ground vigilance/anti-piracy team that works very closely with the law-enforcement agencies to curb piracy. Also, we try and push the agenda of anti-piracy through various industry forums.
Piracy and lack of sufficient screens are the biggest problems of Indian cinema, and Hindi cinema in particular. We have a population of more than 130 crore but only four crore people watch a blockbuster like Sultan in cinema halls.
Major revenue is lost due to piracy and paucity of cinemas. If Rs.300 crore in net box office is generated when a negligible percentage of people watch films in cinema halls, imagine how much revenue could be earned if a major chunk of the population had the option to go to cinemas.
Piracy can be curbed by strict government rules and a wider release base. Today, in the Hindi heartland, we have 1,000 towns and cities with a population of more than 50,000 but no cinemas at all. Construction of cinemas is the only way forward for the Indian film industry. We are facing stiff competition from Hollywood films. Our revenue needs to increase manifold so that we have budgets to mount our films the way Hollywood does.