Piracy committee suggests cost-effective solutions

NEW DELHI: The Committee on Piracy set up by the Central Government today recommended that the content creators, rights holders, distributors, optical disc manufacturers and theatre/multiplex operators need to come together and come up with cost effective solutions.

These measures will include converting traditional theatres in smaller towns into digital theatres and releasing genuine DVDs in bigger cities simultaneously with theatrical release in order to make piracy unviable.

In order to plug piracy from the cinema halls during screening of films, the responsibility should be cast on the theatre/multiplex operators to ensure that viewers do not carry a cam-cording device inside the theatre. The Committee has felt that this be made a condition of the license being granted to theatres and multiplexes by the district authorities.

The Committee has recommended that state governments may enact legislations to provide for preventive detention of video & audio pirates as has been done in some States like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Video pirates may also be brought under the definition of the ‘Goondas’ under the Goonda Act.

The Committee headed by Information and Broadcasting Special Secretary Uday Kumar Varma today presented its report to I&B Minister Ambika Soni. It had been set up in pursuance of the decision arrived in the 27th State Information Ministers’ Conference held in December 2009 (SIMCON).

The Committee in its report has made key recommendations, viewing the problem of piracy through the parameters of demand and supply. In its recommendations, the Committee has focused on mainstreaming instruments of policy and practice in an effort to make piracy substantially risky and financially unattractive.

In order to make Films Entertainment more accessible, the Committee suggested that the price of legitimate Optical Discs need to be brought down in order to make filmed entertainment accessible to the people at a price that they can afford. Measures need to be undertaken to ensure high fidelity in genuine DVDs so as to dissuade the public from buying pirated versions.

Steps need to be taken by DVD manufacturers along with rights holders and content distributors to ensure that there is no compromise with the quality of genuine DVDs sold and that the viewer is not short-changed.

The Committee has also recommended amendments in the Cable Television Networks Act in order to replace the existing system of registration of cable operators with the licensing system.

Taking note of recent industry initiatives like setting up ‘”Alliance against Copyright Theft (AACT)”, the Committee recommends that such initiatives will supplement other efforts to curb piracy if multiplied and intensified.

The Committee has also recommended that the Internet Service Providers should be roped in to check Internet piracy by asking them to initiate action against errant subscribers. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the three stage strike model may be adopted.

In order to buttress the supply side, the Committee in its report has recommended traditional 35 mm screens should be converted into digital ones so as to facilitate simultaneous release of films across the country as also reduce distribution costs. Digitalisation of screens, which have already taken roots in the country with the setting up of almost 3000 such screens, need to be given impetus.

To enhance, sensitization of police, judicial and administrative officials about the Copyright Act, the Committee has felt that their efforts need to be substantially up-scaled along with training and capacity building. This would enable these officials to curb violations which have resulted in rampant piracy.

The Committee also recommended that the option of allowing copyright owners to register with the Copyright Office online should be explored. Alternatively, “censor” certificate granted by CBFC should be treated as evidence of copyright.

The aim of setting up a committee to suggest measures to combat various forms of piracy, namely, films, video, cable, and music piracy emerged during SIMCON in New Delhi on 5 December 2009 which was attended by, among others, Information Ministers of various State Governments as well as representatives of the film industry.

Appreciating that piracy is one of the biggest challenges to the integrity of the film and broadcasting industry, Soni had set up a broad based committee comprising representatives from film and broadcasting industry. The Committee was set up on 18 December with the mandate to recommend measures to combat film, video, cable and music piracy.

Apart from Varma, members of the Committee were: filmmaker Yash Chopra, Film & Television Producers’ Guild of India President Manmohan Shetty, former Film Federation of India President G. Adisheshagiri Rao, Indian Broadcasting Foundation President Jawahar Goel, Association of Radio Operators’ of India member Prashant Pandey, and the Director (Broadcasting) in the Ministry, with Director (Films) in the Ministry as Member Secretary.

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