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'Rs 3,000 cr lost to film, music piracy'

Although the laws are in place, inertia is costing the film and music industry dearly with pirates walking away with huge profits on counterfeits, experts say.

Government estimates peg the losses for the entertainment industry at Rs 1,700 crore annually while a FICCI study suggests that losses total a whopping Rs 2000 crore for the film and Rs 700 crore for the music industry.

"One can safely add another 200 crores to the music piracy if the non-physical formats like the events and music played on radio are included," says D'Souza of the Indian Music Industry (IMI) that regularly conducts raids against violators.

"The main reason that piracy continues to flourish is lack of action on the part of copyright owners to bring the culprits to book," he says.

"The film industry sees it as a lost cause," agrees activist-actor Shabana Azmi who has been signed on by Motion Picture Association as an anti-piracy ambassador.

She points out that the Indian film industry which produces over 800 films each year, and is twice the size of Hollywood, loses money on nine out of every 10 films made - thanks to piracy.

"Piracy is becoming a national menace threatening future growth of creative industries, talent and employment," Azmi Emphasises.

The FICCI study corroborates this. Piracy affects the Indian film industry more than American producers and distributors -- 20 per cent of pirated goods are foreign film titles -- while the remaining 80 per cent of victims are Indian movies.

D'Souza says that piracy menace is not limited to one part of the country but is spread across. "It's a cottage industry that well-organised. The players operate like a parallel distribution network."

He adds that what is shocking though, is the fact that it's "not the poor who do it but the middle-class guy who otherwise thinks nothing of blowing up 70 bucks on a cup of coffee."

"People have to realise that film and music are products for which they have to pay up," says Azmi.

"For producing a three hour film for you to enjoy, it takes hours, days, weeks, months and years of hard toil for hundreds and thousands of people.

The pirate pays nothing back to any of these. It is this toil and hard work that completely goes unacknowledged and unpaid for by each one of us who purchase a pirate copy," she argues.

D'Souza emphasises that piracy is similar to theft "would you buy a car that costs two lakhs for 30,000 or from a shop that displays the sign that the cars in the shop are all stolen? Piracy is just the same," he argues.

Elaborates Azmi, "soft capital or intellectual property may not tangible like a car or our homes, but it is as valuable, if not more valuable than these tangibles assets.

According to the Interpol Website, there have been increasing linkages between piracy and organised crime, terrorism, prostitution and money laundering wherein illegal profits made from piracy -that work out to tune of 800 per cent - are used to fund other serious forms of organised crime.

Chander Lall, a lawyer with MPA says, "in India piracy can invite a minimum jail term of 6 months and a maximum term of 3 years. This is coupled with minimum fines of Rs. 50,000 and a maximum fine of Rs. 2 lakh."



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