Friday, March 28, 2008

The Pirates of the Arabian? In a first, Bollywood and Hollywood versus the Pirates [India]

According to the first Bollywood-Hollywood collaborative study conducted by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) and the US Chamber's Global Intellectual Property Centre, piracy and counterfeiting is depriving the Indian entertainment industry of approximately Rs 16,240 crore every year. This is almost 40 per cent of potential annual revenue, and, according to some analysts, is only a conservative estimate of the actual losses faced by the industry.

While India's entertainment and media industry is the fastest growing among BRIC nations, it is also the smallest. Many believe that stricter control on piracy could give the industry the impetus it needs to become truly global. Aside from the loss of revenue, the report also estimates that over eight lakh people lose their jobs due to piracy each year.
Though India is badly affected by piracy, it is certainly not the only country facing this problem. The US entertainment industry, it is estimated, loses about $6 billion a year in movie revenues alone. The Motion Picture Association of America's efforts notwithstanding, attempts to regulate piracy in the US have not achieved much.
In India's case, the music industry seems to have suffered the worst, with piracy resulting in a 64 per cent loss in total potential revenues, while the movie industry loses about 31 per cent. Industry officials in both countries hope to be able to use the study to pressure the government into adopting stringent anti-piracy measures and protecting intellectual property through strict legislation.
Piracy is, of course, not a new phenomenon. Every new medium is accompanied by intellectual property theft, which is almost impossible to regulate. Copyright was violated routinely in the US in the 18th and 19th centuries. The VCR was viewed with panic in its initial years of release. And so it is with the internet. However, digital media complicates the matter because no physical medium is required to transfer and distribute content. The ease and reach of distribution is also unprecedented. Perhaps the best way to fight piracy is via the same channels through which it has prospered — new technology. A host of innovations, from region-encoded DVD players and coding preventing the copying of digital data, to one-time view DVDs, can be utilised to combat piracy. Another way to fight piracy could be to reduce the prices at which content is sold. Because of the low cost of the medium, high quality content can be sold on disks that cost almost as little as the pirated versions. Such innovative solutions could be the answer to piracy and counterfeiting that the Indian industry is searching for.

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