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Online pirates beware, Copyright Force on way

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MUMBAI: Red alert for online pirates of TV content and movies. Copyright Force is on its way.

In a move to fight online piracy, major broadcasters, studios and the recently set-up Telangana  Intellectual Property Crime Unit (TIPCU) are joining hands with Motion Pictures Association of America (MPA)?s Indian chapter for strengthening and effective implementation of regulations.  

Tentatively named Copyright Force, the industry alliance?s main aim is to set an agenda on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy and engage with the government.

?When you talk about Digital India, the government will have to put out a strong message on curbing online piracy. There are just not enough teeth in existing laws to tackle online piracy. Hence, the industry is exploring an industry alliance to sensitise the government and judiciary of the issue,? Viacom18 general counsel Sujeet Jain explained to indiantelevision.com.

Confirming the move Uday Singh, Managing Director-India, MPA, however, clarified the move was a positive one but needed more deliberations.

The alliance is looking at getting broadcasting companies, studios and other industry organisations like MPA under one roof.

?There are many organizations with larger objectives. The Copyright Force?s (or its formal version) sole purpose would be to push copyright issues,? Jain added.

According to industry sources, initial exploratory meetings on the issue were attended by the likes of Viacom18, Star India, Walt Disney, Zee, Turner, Sony Pictures Networks, Sun TV Network, Eros International, Reliance and TIPCU.

Earlier, speaking on the issue of Digital Content Economy and Robust Enforcement Model at an event organised by FICCI here today, Jain said, ?You cannot fight online crime with offline measures. Online enforcement has to happen.?

According to him, the Copyright Act and IT Act have to be updated so the issue of online piracy is addressed directly and helps the judiciary to properly interpret relevant laws to pass judgements on cases relating to online piracy.

In recent time, the issue of piracy has gained currency in India with mostly film-makers taking John Doe orders in an effort to safeguard against online leaks of films before formal theatrical releases.

However, the content industry feels such cases don?t properly address the growing menace of online piracy.

But taking a leaf out of the UK?s PIPCU (Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit), run by City of London Police, the Telangana government has set up country?s first anti-piracy unit called Telangana Intellectual Property Crime Unit (TIPCU).

The reason for TIPCU formation was effective lobbying by the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce with the state government on behalf of the local film industry that is reported to have suffered losses in excess of Rs 361 crore because of online piracy.

Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce honorary chairman, governing council, anti video piracy cell, Rajkumar Akella said, ?As we have been witnessing in recent days, the problem of online piracy is most urgent. The greatest threat now has become the pre-movie release leakages. Without real time interventions from the government and the industry, it will go out of control.?

According to him, TIPCU, an initiative brought to life by the Telangana government, the Telugu film industry and MPA India, was a very significant step. ?The unit will be making optimum use of technology besides policy enforcement and outreach,? Akella added.

MPA regional director, online content protection, Oliver Walsh said, ?The Indian film and TV industry supports 1.8 million jobs which are at risk because of rising online content theft. The future of legitimate content delivery platforms depends on effective enforcement measures supported by Indian State governments.?

Pointing out that TIPCU was a great example of a dedicated law enforcement unit to tackle organized online film piracy, Walsh said such an approach will go a long way in significantly reducing online infringement of films and television content. 

Jain also pointed out that there is a need to develop dedicated digital courts in the country where the issue of online piracy is addressed exclusively.

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