India must act strongly against piracy if cinema is to thrive: Dodd

MUMBAI: Even though the Indian cinema is thriving and poised to become a $ five billion industry in the next two years, the government must act strongly against piracy if this growth has to be sustained.

Motion Picture Association of America CEO Chris Dodd said during his keynote address at Ficci Frames on the opening day that movies contributed about $ 640 million to the Indian economy annually. "India is the biggest movie ticket market in the world, with 3.3 billion tickets sold every year. India‘s movie industry is in transition from being a $ 3.2 billion industry until two years ago, towards becoming a $ five billion industry in the next two years," he added.

But he regretted that India was among the top 10 markets when it comes to copyright infringement online. He called for joint efforts between the industries to end theft of content as it is a major threat.

Dodd quoted an Ernst & Young report which said the Indian movie industry loses around $ one billion due to content theft every year.

He said the notion that one cannot be pro technology and pro copyright at the same time is false. It is important to build relationships between content and technology. The Indian government must act to protect against online theft, he said, adding the government should pass anti-camcorder laws since camcorders are used in cinema halls to pirate films which are then made available on Indian streets within a few days of a film‘s launch.

He noted that it was important to end piracy in India as money is lost not just by the faces seen on the screen but also by other people like truck drivers, dry cleaners etc. who contribute to the film industry by working in it. He mentioned Creative America which is a grassroots coalition in the United States aimed at protecting intellectual property and commercial interests of Hollywood.

He noted that in 2010, the Los Angeles India Film Council was formed to facilitate the exchange of ideas, talent and investment. This will lead to more activities, he said. The aim of the council is to also break down barriers in production and distribution. The Council will also look at harnessing the power of emerging technologies and bring artistes to collaborate on new ideas. "Film remains a key growth driver despite economic uncertainties," he said.

Hollywood will release around 36 films this year, he said, and the India market was a huge opportunity that the US motion picture industry is keen on tapping.

Stating that collaboration between the Indian and the US movie industries is expected to increase, Dodd said "barriers that prevent production and distribution of content must be brought down."

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