Video piracy eating into industry vitals

Video piracy eating into industry vitals

 “The Copyright Act under which we book a suspect is inadequate to put an end to this problem. Cases booked under various sections of this Act are bailable. The police can’t book the suspects under the Goonda Act as its scope doesn’t extend to the sale of pirated CDs. The suspects have taken advantage of this,” said a police officer attached to Fraud and Misappropriation Squad of the CCB.

There are a few other ways by which the sale of pirated CDs can be controlled. The audio/video companies should bring down the prices of original CDs; theatre and multiplex owners should reduce ticket prices; those in the film industry should organise regular campaigns to create awareness among the people about the consequences of using pirated CDs, the officer suggested.

A few other officers said they sympathise with the producers who invest huge sums of money and end up incurring losses due to the circulation of pirated CDs. The police will act only if a complaint is lodged. If the problem is very grave, the police take suo motu notice and conduct a raid. Hence, company owners should regularly keep the police informed about places where piracy thrives, the officers said.

Once a suspect is found guilty of the offence by the court, he is liable to be awarded simple imprisonment for three years. All cases of circulation of pirated CDs come up for hearing in the IX ACMM court.

It takes almost three years for a particular case to reach the hearing stage. Many things would have changed by then. Also, the company owners lose interest after the raids. The witnesses will not be able to recall how and when the raid took place.

Sometimes, the suspects would have moved out of the City. These things lead to acquittal of the suspects. Conviction rate in such cases is just one per cent, said the officer. The pirated CDs are destroyed by the police.

It is high time the Copyright Act is amended and certain sections are made non-bailable offences. Experts should contemplate on including circulation of pirated CDs under the Goonda Act, said a senior officer.

Circulation of pirated CDs mostly takes place on pavements. The police have other things to look into. If they are to concentrate only on curbing circulation of pirated CDs, then the entire CCB will have to be on the task. Hence, the police team looking into piracy cases should comprise representatives from the audio/video companies and film producers association.

Another problem is that those concerned do not consider the circulation of pirated CDs seriously. Hence, there is less pressure from the top brass to keep an eye on the menace, a senior officer said. He said all these flaws had led to an unholy nexus between a few police officers and those active in making and circulating pirated CDs.

“I watch a lot of regional movies in the theatre, but prefer to watch Hollywood movies at home with my friends. Although I don’t download movies myself, I take them from friends who download.”
Ritu M, student, St Joseph’s College

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