Snigdha Roy brings us her third submission to the SpicyIP Fellowship applicant series. This post looks over piracy in India and also takes a brief look into some new controversial reports on the funding sources of online piracy.
Online Piracy: Gross Copyright Infringement
Online piracy is on a rise and it is soon to replace physical piracy. Nowadays, one can download anything for free be it movies, music, software or books. Online piracy is a menace no doubt but one would have to admit that at some point of time or the other one has definitely given it a shot or at least thought about it.
This post discusses how gross copyright infringements take place by way of online piracy in India. It also takes a look at the recently published report which accuses Google and Yahoo of being financers of internet piracy and ends with brief information about the recent amendments made to the Copyright Act which may facilitate the fight against piracy.
As known, the copyright holder has the exclusive right to distribute, reprint, translate, and license his or her work. Piracy is the unauthorised reproduction, importing or distribution either of the whole or of a substantial part of works which are otherwise protected by copyright.
India has emerged as one of the biggest hubs of online piracy, with Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai accounting for the major share of the illegal downloads. According to studies commissioned by the Motion Picture Distributors’ Association (MPDA), the local office of the Hollywood Motion Picture Association (MPA), India accounts for maximum film piracy in any English-speaking country if one goes by the number of broadband subscribers (read here).
Recently India along with twelve other countries found itself in the highest priority watch list of 2012, which is a part of U.S. Trade Representative’s annual list of countries on America’s official piracy radar. As per the report online piracy is rapidly supplanting physical piracy in many markets around the world (read here). According to the US India Business Council – Ernst & Young 2008 report on ‘The Effects of Counterfeiting and Piracy on India’s Entertainment Industry,’ the Indian film industry lost USD 959 million and 571.896 jobs in that year due to piracy (read here). In India 90% of all piracy begins with an unauthorized recording by camcorders in theatres on the opening weekend of a film’s release.
It’s not like efforts have not been made to curb piracy. Many organisations have constantly made efforts to combat online piracy and root it out completely. Speaking on the issue with Radioandmusic.com, Global IPR Foundation Founder & Chairman MM Satish said, “In the past few years there were a number of solutions provided by various people but nothing has been positively effective to provide a 100 per cent solution. Most of the portals that people are downloading from are based out of the country. I cannot impose our laws in those countries or bust up the piracy racket there.”
In September 2012 a crackdown was done on online film piracy. The anti-piracy cell of the Kerela state police traced down the IP address of a total of 1,010 persons who illegally uploaded or downloaded the then recently released Malayalam movie Bachelor Party. The police took action on the basis of a complaint filed by a Thrissur based firm Movie Channel which bought the video CD, DVD rights of the film (read here). This is one of its kind incidents in India.
Like any other websites, the websites which facilitate piracy needs funding to stay afloat. For these websites one of the main means of gathering revenue is on-site advertising. A report, “The Six Business Models of Copyright Infringement”, funded by Google and the PRS for the Music on Brands, found that advertising financed 86% of the peer to peer search sites that feature illegally distributed content. Ironically a recent report published on 5th January 2013 ranked Google and Yahoo in the top ten advertising networks placing the most advertisements to illicit file sharing sites. This report titled USC Annenberg Lab Ad Transparency Report is the first in a monthly series of reports from the Annemberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California that details support by Online Ad Networks of the major pirate movie and music sites around the world. The allegations have not been proved yet and Google has raised questions about the research methodologies employed to make the report. However if the allegations turn out to be true then it would be a big dent in the image Google which has claimed to be against piracy.
The Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012 which has in ways revolutionised the Copyright laws in India has also made certain changes with regards to laws against piracy. The new section 65A protects the technological protections measures (TPM) used by copyright owners against circumvention. TPM is used by a copyright owner to protect his rights on the work. In case a person circumvents it with the intention of infringing such rights, then that person would be punishable with imprisonment upto 2 years and shall also be liable for fine. Further with the insertion of Section 65B the Act intents to make removal of right management information without authority and distribution thereafter a criminal offence. Information Rights Management (IRM) is a term that applies to a technology which protects sensitive information from unauthorised access. So any unauthorised and intentional removal or alteration of any rights management information is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment. The introduction of Sections 65A and 65B is expected to help the film, music and publishing industry in fighting piracy.
Piracy is not a problem which can be irradicated overnight. It needs persistent work and unity at the global level. The new amendments may not be enough to take India off the “priority watch list”. However the crackdown by the Kerela state police and the many initiatives taken to educate the masses can definitely help make improvements.