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With an annual rate of 1000 movies released worldwide, the Indian film industry is the largest entertainment sector in the world. The Bollywood industry generates an annual revenue of more than $2 billion from theatre releases, TV distribution rights and DVD releases. However, the movie industry is a vulnerable victim of piracy. As per a recent survey, India ranks at No. 4 globally for online movie piracy.
Online piracy is rampant in India and all over the world, replacing piracy through CDs and DVDs as downloading pirated content from different Torrent websites is much simpler and cheaper. Any movie, song or even e-books and software are available for free on these Torrent websites like The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrent, etc.
The Pirate Bay is one of the websites that contains freely licensed content which does not require additional permission from the owner to download and share. Nonetheless, such websites freely provide content which has Copyright protection and is available illegally for people to download. Downloading protected content whether it is a simple song, video or a full movie, amounts to Copyright violation of the actual owner.
Use of technology like prints watermarking allows producers to keep a check on usage and movement of each print across the globe. However, even such measures have failed to curb the problem of online piracy in India. With costs relating to converting prints into digital copies reduced with advent of technology, online piracy has multiplied at a speedy rate at a global level.
In India, the Copyright Act, 1957 protects all kinds of literary, artistic, musical and dramatic work, including the work by producers and cinematographers. The increased in online piracy has pushed the Indian Government to take stringent measures to protect the interest of moviemakers and distributors. The amendment to Copyright Act is one of such measures by the government against the rampant menace of online piracy in India.
The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 has revolutionised the Copyright laws in India by amending piracy laws in India. Section 65A protects Technological Protection Measures (TPM) used by copyright owners against any evasion or breach. TPM is used by copyright owners to protect their rights in the copyrighted work. If someone evades or circumvents TPM in order to infringe the owner’s IPR, then the person can be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years along with fine.
Section 65B of the Copyright (Amendment) Act deals with Information Rights Management (IRM). IRM protects sensitive information from unauthorised and illegal access by a person. Under the law, any unauthorised and intentional removal or alteration of IRM is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 also deals with online distribution of illicit copies of Copyrighted content. Under Section 66 of the Information Technology Act, a person can be punished with imprisonment for up to 3 years with fine for up to Rs. 2 lakh.
Recently, the makers of ‘Udta Punjab’ filed an FIR against illegal distribution of the movie before it released, on different Torrent websites. The police arrested a man and the Bombay High Court punished him with imprisonment for 3 years along with Rs. 3 lakh fine for infringement of Copyright under the Copyright Act, 1957.
To curb the problem of online piracy in India, the Indian courts have adopted a new form of order named 'John Doe Order'. In a john doe order, the identity of accused person is unknown at the time of filing the petition and only a small description is given to identify the accused. The Indian film-makers are using john doe orders to deal with online piracy of new movies on 100s of torrent websites before they even release. Torrent or free movie download providing websites that are apprehended to provide illegal access to unreleased movies are blocked in advance.
The biggest crack to online piracy in India happened in 2012 when the Kerala Anti-Piracy Cell traced IP addresses of more than 1000 people who were involved in illegal upload and download of the movie ‘Bachelor Party’ online. The action was taken when a complaint was filed by a movie channel which purchased the distribution rights of the movie.
Online piracy is a critical problem for the entertainment industry. The recent surveys and increased vigilance by the industry have highlighted the problem of online piracy in India. Additional government measures and legal lockdown on people involved in online piracy is required to protect the rights of Copyright owners.
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