Indian Music Industry ties up with Holoflex to curb piracy

MUMBAI: The Indian Music Industry (IMI) has stepped up the fight against piracy in association with Holoflex - a hologram manufacturer. The two will join hands to organise a series of seminars to educate the consumer on how one can differentiate between a genuine CD and a pirated one through a specially created IMI hologram.

While addressing the media in Mumbai today, IMI officials confirmed that the seminars have already taken place in Bangalore and Delhi; and in a few weeks time IMI will conduct seminars in Chennai.

According to a release, IMI will also use print and television spots to create awareness about the distinguished features of the IMI hologram. This particular hologram, adds the release, is a combination of laser generated images and is not ink based. IMI's hologram is created through a painstaking process involving over 40 processes. If one attempts to remove it, only the polyester film will come out. If peeled further, then the image is destroyed. The hologram features the IMI text that one can see. The IMI release says that these features aren't visible on the pirated products.

Holoflex has already conducted workshops to educate the IMI internal task force on how the hologram is to be identified. Now, the company is trying to familiarise consumers with this trademark. IMI officials point out that the pirated CD don't have the track listings; and have spelling errors of the titles or artistes.

The IMI release also claims that the hologram is customised for each member. For example for Tips the code is T for Venus the code is V and so on.

At the Mumbai briefing this morning, IMI president VJ Lazarus said: "The legitimate music industry is worth 475 crores (Rs 47.5 million) from 2002-2003 end March. This is a comedown from 775 crores (Rs 77.5 million) in 2000-2001. The industry is at the crossroads. However in countries like Italy where the hologram system has been implemented, the share of the legitimate music industry has grown by 20 per cent."

"The problem in India is the both legitimate and illegitimate distribution of music takes place within the same system. Therefore lower down the chain, a retail outlet might sell a counterfeit product without realising the difference. Our hope is that the hologram will go a long way towards resolving the mix up. The work to create the hologram took around six months," Lazarus added.

Lazarus said that the IMI was hoping to have its portal up and running by January 2004. "We can let visitors download music for a reasonable price. The music industry here and abroad have realised that digital distribution is the way for future revenue. This will cover the entire repertoire of Indian music. However, this does not mean that we can afford to ignore the physical product."

IMI officials claim that the association had some major wins last month as far as licence fees are concerned. In the Malhar college festival case, a Mumbai court ruled in favour of IMI saying that the event organisers could not claim the educational institution exemption as St. Xaviers College was just a facilitator for a multi million event with sponsors like Pepsi, Coke amongst others.

"Interestingly a day before the event, the Malhar committee went to court but the tables were turned quickly," claims an IMI spokesperson. Another win was the case involving the Indian Hotels Association in Kerala and Simla, the spokesperson adds.

As far as FM Radio is concerned, the IMI officials say that the agreement decided by the Copyright Board will remain till October 2004 after which it will come up for review. They also state that neither party is happy with the current arrangement by the way. The IMI officials are trying to work out an arrangement with MTV and the other music channels so that the recording company is paid for the non-film music video and not just the audio.

The major online problem for IMI is tackling piracy abroad in countries like America where there is a substantial Indian and Asian population. While the Recording Industry Association of America has promised cooperation the legal costs are very high - offer IMI officials.

Pop musician Shaan who was also present at the briefing stressed the need for the music industry to unite. "Too often we artistes blame the music company if the album fails. We do make money from live acts and sometimes success takes place after three albums. I urge IMI to organise more forums like this so that artistes can dialogue with members of the music industry to advance the state of affairs."

Shaan also said that artistes could help the cause by mentioning the piracy fight at concerts. "We need to be aware of the state of the industry because if it dies where will we go?".

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