Content theft negatively impacts profitability, thus resulting in less investment capital: Uday Singh

For every one individual, Indian theaters lose 100 because of cheaply available pirated DVDs and illegal streaming. While creative minds are traveling that extra mile to exhibit quality, illegal infiltration of camcorders and hall prints are creating holes in creators’ pocket. Descending footfalls, and shutting down of theatres are not good signs for the film industry and experts don’t see the phenomenon changing unless and until piracy is strictly addressed, the abysmally low growth rate poses enormous challenges in front Indian Film Industry.

Motion Pictures Distribution Association (MPDA) India under the leadership of managing director Uday Singh is associating with various organization of national and international magnitude to come up with a solution and create a scenario that helps creator getting his due recognition.

From educative measures to penalizations in a conversation with’s Anirban Roy Choudhury, Singh discusses the strategies and plans MPDA is roping in to counter serious issues like piracy and content theft.


Do you feel it is important to change the behavior of consumer and make them understand the value of content, which may result in them saying no to piracy? If yes, then how can it be executed?

Our goal is to help and support industry growth through the creation of a sustainable ecosystem for creative industries and educating consumers on the need to protect creative industries is therefore very important through industry initiatives.

One such initiative was our launch of a website:, in association with the Film and Television Producers Guild of India (FTPGI), which serves as a resource for online audiences to access movies and television shows legally. The launch of Comicorner at the 2014 Comic Con held in Hyderabad was amongst the others. Comicorner presented us with an opportunity promote copyright and content protection through interactive activities.

The FICCI report indicates very low rate of growth in the cinema industry. Do think piracy is one of the major reasons behind that?

Content theft negatively impacts profitability, thereby resulting in less investment capital. Less capital pegs down the number of films that can be financed, thereby creating fewer jobs, and reducing the range of film and television productions made for audiences to enjoy.

In 2014, the MPDA partnered with FTPGI, the Film Federation of India (FFI) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to launch a report entitled ‘Economic Contribution of the Indian Motion Picture and Television Industry’ by leading financial services firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India. The report estimated that the Indian Motion Picture and Television industry contributes $8.1 billion (Rs50,000 crores) to India’s economy and supports 1.8 million jobs. Through this report, it is evident that the industry has the potential to contribute on a much larger scale if content was better protected and the complex taxation of the industry is reviewed.

What is the main source of piracy in India?

Piracy in the film industry originates from ‘camcording’ in cinema halls. Over 90 per cent of new release titles originate from cinemas. These infringing copies appear online within few hours of a film’s release. This affects the performance of the film, the distribution cycle and jobs.

The rising threat of Internet piracy via Illegal or “rogue websites” contribute to, facilitate, and induce the illegal distribution of copyrighted works, such as movies and television programming. In 2014 alone, 30 camcords from India were synced to 54 additional audio resources in 15 different languages.

What in your opinion should be the strategy to counter piracy?

We need to recognize that in the next two years, India will have the fastest Internet traffic growth (348 million Internet users) and is already the second largest mobile user base in the world, after China, which has over a billion users. The growth in mobile penetration and more users having access to faster Internet speeds, signal the growing need for adequate legal protection and enforcement measures to combat piracy through cyberlocker, BitTorrent, web based file hosting, wireless access control (WAP), blogs and online radio sites services, which stunt India’s creative industries.

Illegal camcording of feature films in theatres remains a major threat to the sustainability of the movie industry. Once an illegal camcord copy of a film is uploaded to the Internet, it can significantly impact on the amount of revenue the producers can recoup from the theatrical release. We therefore encourage the Government to implement specific anti-camcording provisions in the upcoming Draft Cinematograph Bill, 2013 and make adequate provisions for ‘Technology Protection Measures’ in India’s IT Act, in light of the roll out of the Digital India initiative and the upcoming National IPR Policy, which will help in protecting IP across creative industries including films as a category.

Do you think proper credentials of intellectual property can help the industry to grow further?

Promoting and protecting Intellectual Property in creative industries will enable India’s creative industries to enforce their IP rights and achieve their full potential in a rapidly changing marketplace. We applaud the Government of India (Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry) for pushing forward the much-needed National IPR Policy that envisages IP as an integral part of India’s overall development policy.

What are the initiatives that MPDA is taking for IPR in India?

MPDA India works closely with the local industry, Government, law enforcement authorities and educational institutions to promote and protect the film and television industry in India. The MPDA over the years has formed strategic alliances with the local film industry in India to launch campaigns to promote legitimate access to content, prevent content theft, share global best practices and promote industry growth.

Initiatives include, our strategic alliance in 2012 with the Andhra Pradesh Film Chamber of Commerce (APFCC) to pool resources and jointly tackle issues such as camcording, cable theft and to promote public awareness and education campaigns on the importance of content protection.

Since2012, the MPDA and the APFCC have carried out four successful enforcement operations that resulted in the arrest of members of criminal camcording syndicates and taking down of infringing websites. We’ve launched a mobile application - Indian Movie Cop - that serves as an online and mobile copyright information and awareness tool in eight Indian languages to reach out to wider audiences and industry stakeholders across India. The app was also designed as an interactive tool to help educate law enforcement officers about relevant laws that are applicable during ‘an arrest’.

Through our partnership with FICCI and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), we have conducted several training programs for multiplex operators across the country, especially in regions where content theft/ piracy is rampant. Further, we have supported several sensitization programs for law enforcement officers and the Judiciary across major cities in India. Through co-operation from our member studios producing local language films, we launched outreach initiatives targeting online audiences through ‘content protection’ messaging from over 30 Indian celebrities. The cumulative reach of these videos has been over 50,000 over the past two years.

MPDA’s multi-pronged approach to increase public education on the value of the local screencommunity provides an insight into the industry and benefits that come from accessing only legal content has been well received by local screen communities in India.

What technological protective measures need to be taken in order to create safe ecosystems for content to be distributed freely?

With the arrival of the digital age, it is possible for consumers to make numerous copies ofcopyrighted materials, without a discernable loss of quality, unlike analog. This leads to the possibility that copyright protection could be overridden by uncontrolled copying, especially since such illegal actions are often difficult to trace.

Technological Protection Measures, or TPMs, are defined as being any technology, component or device designed to prevent or restrict acts with respect to works or other subject matter that are not authorized by the rights holder of any copyright-related right.

Today, technology enables copyright owners to control access to and the duplication of copyrighted works through encryption software and copy-controlling mechanisms, which are relevant to copyright holders in the digital age. TPMs maybe software or hardware based and can be implemented for broadcast content, packaged media content and interoperability.

What are the policing mechanisms that we can see going forward to prevent piracy or breach of intellectual property act?

Enforcement of copyright continues to remain a challenge as 'IP Issues' remain low priority amongst law enforcement officials. Further,law enforcement officialsacross various levels need a deeper understanding of the Internet, advances in technologyand how online content theft and the widespread distribution of infringing content is facilitated.

Currently, while enforcement of IP is considered as low priority, there is also no systematic and active coordination and collaboration between enforcement agencies to tackle organized copyright or content theft.

We therefore recommend the setup of a National IP Enforcement Task Force, which will work in a coordinated, systematic and efficient manner not restricted by jurisdictional issues, have a clear view of inter-state operations of organized crime units engaged in piracy and will ensure protection of intellectual property rights – both at source and online.

There is also a need to establish clear guidelines/standard operating procedures for enforcement of IP related issues at a national level and adequately train enforcement agencies to carry out their responsibilities through systematic processes and sharing of international best practices and developments through timely sensitization programs. Training programs should address offences relating to IP laws including online and off-line piracy through statutes such as the Copyright Act, 1957/ IT Act, 2000 for IP violations.

What are the penalties and penalizations shortlisted, which will be imposed in case of a breach?

Penalties for copyright infringement include:

·Section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957 which mandates copyright infringement as a criminal offence implicating prison terms, on conviction, of up to three years with a minimum terms of six months and or a fine of Rs50,000 up to Rs2,00,000.

·Penalty for second conviction- According to Section 63A of the Copyright Act, 1957, a second conviction for copyright infringement implicates prison terms of not less than one year and up to three years and fine not less than Rs 1,00,000 and up to Rs2,00,000.

·Penalty for possession of plates for purpose of making infringing copies:Section 65 of the Copyright Act, 1957 mandates the possession of plates for the purpose of making infringing copies as an offence and also implicates prison term of up to two years and a fine. Thus even the possession of duplicating equipment for the purposes of making infringing copies of works is an offence under the Copyright Act, 1957.

·Penalty for circumvention of DRMs:Section 65A of the Copyright Act mandates prison terms of up to two years in case of the circumvention of technological protection measures, that isDRMs, with the intention of infringing copyrights.

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