Did you know that an estimated 600 million pirated DVDs are sold in India every year compared to only 20 million original ones? Industry insiders quote these figures pointing to the huge losses inflicted on the entertainment industry by the piracy menace.
"The size of the Indian film industry is $2 billion. Hollywood film Avatar alone has done a business of over $2 billion in just a year. That is how small our film industry is and on top of that, piracy eats up half the profits," said Hiren Gada, director of Shemaroo Entertainment.Harish Dayani, chief executive-entertainment of Moser Baer India Ltd, who is credited with denting the piracy market, does not reveal a rosy picture either.
"Only 20 million legitimate DVDs are sold every year in India compared to 600 million pirated DVDs. And each of these pirated DVDs contains up to five films," he said.
Countering the point that the price of DVDs is a deciding factor, Dayani said, "Money is definitely not the question! Piracy is a function of the value system - of a consumer in society, of enforcement in society and the quality of a country."
"Forty per cent of the film business in the US is through the sale of its DVDs while in India it is barely five to eight percent, thanks to piracy. And you ask why we don't make lavish sets, or bigger budget films. The overall impact of piracy on the entertainment business is anywhere between $1 and $2 billion," said Gada.
The connection between piracy and other local crimes and global terrorism, with piracy being used to fund them, has also been well established.
Prakash Nathan, vice president-operations in UTV Motion Pictures, meanwhile spoke of the formation of the Alliance Against Copyright Theft (AACT).
He said, "We raid street vendors, internet and online piracy, camcorder piracy in theatres. We have people on the ground who have conducted about 100 raids in the last six months with 110 arrests so far and 400,000 of DVDs being seized.
"We have hired consultants to track IP addresses. We have a toll free number, 18001031919, which anyone can dial and the enforcement directorate will ensure that the pirated shop is down."
Savio D'Souza, secretary general of the industry organisation Indian Music Industry (IMI), however, spoke of a different approach to piracy.
"We are working on a model where a pirate can walk into an IMI office in the country, and get a legitimate licence to sell music and DVDs. Simply penalisation will not work considering the vastness of our country and the large number of shops selling them," said D'Souza.
He said shops that sell pirated material, do not necessarily do it out of choice, but because they often do not have any choice. And giving them a chance to convert first is more appropriate. He gave examples of 2,000 mobile shop sellers who would load a customer's mobile with pirated songs, but convert it when told how adversely their actions affect the industry and the nation.
All these veterans participated in a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)- organised 4th International Conference on counterfeiting and piracy here.