Television

Shanghai court rules in favour of US studios in piracy case

MUMBAI: If there is one thing that India and China share in common, it is a common disrespect for copyright.

Therefore, the recent victory by three US studio majors Walt Disney Co, Vivendi Universal and News Corp's Twentieth Century Fox in their continuing battle against piracy in mainland China is all the more significant.

According to a Reuters report, a Shanghai court has ruled in favour of the three Hollywood studios, who took the landmark legal action against local companies for pirating movies.

This is the second legal victory by the major studios in the last year or so. Last September, the three studios, along with AOL Time Warner's Warner Bros, sued retailers and factories in Beijing for pirating films. Warner and Universal had won damages and apologies when they settled their Beijing lawsuits this spring.

The studios had sought a public apology, compensation of up to $75,000 per film and a halt to the alleged violations, MPAA regional legal counsel Mark Day was quoted as saying in an earlier report. Day said that piracy of movies was running at over 90 per cent of titles produced in China.

According to the MPAA website, piracy costs the US motion picture industry more than $3 billion each year in lost revenue worldwide, with China thought to be one of the worst offenders.

As a "piracy-infested" market, India faces similar problems to that of China though not to the extent that exists across the "bamboo curtain". In a presentation during Ficci Frames 2003, Michael Ellis, vice-president & director, MPAA, said piracy in India was costing the US film industry a revenue loss of $75 million a year.

Said Ellis, "In India, piracy used to be 80 per cent. We were able to reduce that to 60 per cent in 2000 and a little bit lower in 2001, but it’s on its way back and our losses have increased from $70 million to $75 million (in 2002). China is more than twice that with about $168 million in estimated lost revenue due to piracy in 2002, the International Intellectual Property Alliance has said.

Ellis said that over 9,000 raids were conducted across Asia in 2002 resulting in over 7,900 favourable criminal prosecutions.

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