While India has a thriving movie market that is loved both at home and overseas, it also has serious problems with piracy.
With around 1,000 films produced every year, most major titles are quickly pirated and distributed on the black market, whether on physical media (for around $1 per copy) or for free via the Internet.
One of the key problems is the swift availability of Indian movies on pirate sites, often within hours of their theatrical debut. Aside from the so-called screener copies that sometimes leak out, around 90% of ‘pirate’ releases can be tracked to unauthorized in-theater recordings, usually via camcorders or cellphones.
To target this unlicensed copying, earlier this year the Indian government proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act to deter people from undermining the local movie industry. On the table were three-year jail sentences for pirates and/or a maximum fine of Rs.10 Lakhs (US$14,000), with the aim of plugging a claimed $US2.7 billion hole in the market.
As it transpires, things move quickly in India. In an announcement Wednesday by Sitanshu Kar, Principal Spokesperson for the Government of India, it was revealed that the amendments to the 1952 Act have been passed by the Union Cabinet.
As detailed above, no one will be able to legally make audio or video recordings of a movie (or part thereof) without first obtaining permission from copyright holders.
Also outlawed is the use or attempted use of a device (likely a cellphone or similar) to record or transmit any part of a movie, something which immediately rules out any type of live streaming or transfer.
As detailed in the January 2019 proposals, punishments will indeed go ahead on the basis of a potential three-year jail sentence and/or a maximum fine of Rs.10 Lakhs (US$14,000) for infringers.
While the new punishments will likely act as a deterrent to some, they are unlikely to tame India’s big online boogeyman.
Despite massive court-ordered blocking by dozens of ISPs against a long list of its domains, torrent site TamilRockers looks set to continue business as usual, both with its high-profile cam-sourced leaks and regular taunting of the authorities.