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We need the government, legislation and industry agencies on our side if we are to tackle Internet piracy with seriousness

The Indian film industry offers significant growth potential and is expected to touch Rs 150 billion in 2016. In a market where over a thousand films release every year, much of the public often see only the glitzy sheen of the motion picture business. But beneath the surface lies a vibrant industry employing many hard-working, dedicated professionals at all levels and in many different capacities. As with any business, this industry relies on profits to invest in future products. In turn, the financial success of films and television shows contributes significantly to local economies.

According to the PWC Economic Contribution Report of the Indian Film and Television Industry, commissioned by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in 2010, the total direct economic contribution of the Indian film industry is estimated at ` 2,931 crore, and employment generated was 1.83 million workers, many of whom are daily-wage earners. Content theft negatively impacts profitability, thereby resulting in less investment capital. Less capital pegs down the number of films that can be financed, thereby creating fewer jobs. According to Ernst & Young, the Indian Film Industry lost USD 959 million and 577,000 jobs due to film piracy in 2008.

More than 90 per cent of newly released movies which appear illegally on the Internet and on the streets around the world originate from camcord copies made in cinemas. A study conducted by MPDA (India) in 2009 revealed that camcorded versions of Hindi titles hit the pirate market on an average of 2.15 days after the first legitimate theatrical showing in India.

In India, content theft through camcording in cinemas has been significantly increasing over the years. In 2012, we have identified 41 forensic matches to camcording incidents  in the first seven months, almost double the number in 2011, which had 21 camcording incidents during the same period. This figure accounts for 53 per cent of all forensic matches to the entire Asia-Pacific region during the first seven months of 2012. It is therefore crucial to combat piracy at source, i.e., camcording in cinemas, burner labs which replicate camcorded copies and warehouses which distribute illegal DVDs copies.

Online piracy in India is executed mainly through file-sharing networks like Bit Torrent and cyberlockers, or web-based file hosts. Content theft through the Internet is becoming a significant concern as India adds 121 million Internet users in 2012 with a population penetration rate of 10 per cent.

MPDA-India, which is part of the MPA, represents the interests of major motion picture companies in the global marketplace. In India, we work closely with the local screen and creative communities, law enforcement authorities and educational institutions to promote and protect the Indian film industry.

We believe in a multi-pronged approach to address content theft: deter camcording, curtail online infringements and seek enforcement support to take down the criminals behind optical disc piracy through a well-coordinated action plan supported by the government and local industry bodies and associations.

We work to include strong intellectual property rights provisions in legislations to combat piracy at source. India should take note of many countries in Asia such as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, which have successfully included anti-camcording provisions as part of their legislation, thus reducing the number of camcording incidents significantly.

We recommend that with the cooperation of the government and Internet Service Providers, site-blocking measures can be an effective tool in combating online piracy. We encourage the government to make adequate provisions for technology protection measures in India’s IT Act, in the light of the National Broadband Policy and set up a National IP policy, which would help in protecting IP across industries including films as a category.

MPDA (India) has liaised with local industry bodies such as the Andhra Pradesh Film Chamber of Commerce (APFCC) in 2012 and the Alliance Against Copyright Theft (AACT) in 2010, to launch anti-piracy campaigns. It has also released several industry reports on the effects of content theft on the industry to raise awareness. In June 2012, a joint operation by MPDA (India) and the APFCC resulted in busting two major organised criminal syndicates in South India that cost the film industry about Rs 25 crore in losses.

We constructively work with exhibitors to enlist their support to deter camcording by displaying anti-camcording messages in cinemas and conduct ‘Make A Difference’ training programmes for cinema management, staff and security. Over the past two years, MPDA (India) has trained over 1,000 cinema staff and security.

An important part of our mission and responsibility is to educate parents, students, teachers – consumers of all ages and from all walks of life – about the importance of intellectual property rights and the forms, causes and effects of content theft. We constantly work with a number of educational institutions and local associations as part of our outreach programmes to raise awareness and promote respect for copyright.

MPDA (India) is committed to forming important partnerships with film and television communities across the world. The LA India Film Council is one such initiative. It was created to facilitate and strengthen motion picture production, distribution, technology, content protection and commercial cooperation between film communities in Los Angeles and India.

We are very happy to join forces with prominent partners in the areas of technology, education, film and distribution who form the Governing Council. The website has been set up to welcome queries and imparts information to the film communities in both countries.

It will take a powerful, organised and united force to combat the illegal enterprises that steal the hard work of creators across the world.

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