Maharashtra govt's new law to take on film pirates

MUMBAI: The film industry is agog with excitement after the government of Maharashtra promulgated an ordinance to curb audio-video piracy, prescribing preventive detention and equating pirates with drug offenders.

The ordinance was notified after a plea by the entertainment industry to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan that it was losing an estimated 8,20,000 jobs and $4 billion annually in potential revenue due to piracy.

The ordinance, signed by Governor SC Jamir, has included audio-video piracy in the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDA) which has provisions for preventive detention of likely perpetrators.

The ordinance categorises audio-video pirates with slumlords, bootleggers, drug offenders and dangerous persons, besides calling for the imprisonment of offenders for up to 12 months. But it is not yet clear whether one who is caught buying a piarted copy will also be apprehended under the Act.

"The ordinance is a landmark because it reflects the government‘s resolve to fight piracy on a war-footing," says filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt.

Said Motion Picture Distributors. Association (India) Managing Director Rajiv Dalal, "We applaud the passage of this deterrent legislation that places piracy offenses under the Maharashtra state organised crime statute.

"Over the last several months, the release of the RAND report on ‘Film Piracy, Organised Crime and Terrorism‘ has established strong links between film piracy and organised crime/terrorist funding in India. This legislation is indeed timely and will significantly curb piracy and funding to organised criminal and terrorist syndicates in one of the most important global fim markets."

With the promulgation of the ordinance, people in the film industry believe that stringent action would now be taken against violators of the law and this could witness the beginning of the end of piracy.

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