Movie Piracy - Whose game is it anyway?

January 4, 2010 was a watershed day in the history of Indian movies in general and Tamil movies in particular. We had seen before instances of unfinished movie clippings uploaded on the net unlawfully. But uploading a complete movie was a crime unseen or unheard before. Jaggubai the 15 crore mega project of Sarathkumar directed by KS Ravikumar was made available on the net and that shocked the entire Tamil film industry. Immediately a complaint was made to the Chief Minister and the culprits were arrested within days of the crime.

“Jaggubai may be the latest bombshell but the piracy crime has been continuing for long in different levels irrespective of the region. ”

The film industry big names including Rajnikanth and Kamalhasan immediately convened a press conference at the Four Frames Theatre in Chennai in a show of solidarity. All those who spoke condemned the act and appealed to the authorities to take the most stringent action possible prevent the action being repeated in the future.

Rajnikanth was practical to say the crime actually happened in collusion with the people from within the industry. So unity is a priority to prevent this. Kamalhasan who always travels with the times of change said “We have to realise that people will buy a DVD or CD if it is available in every road junction.”

The director of the film K.S. Ravikumar said “Our efforts of more than a year have been wasted.” Most filmmakers, producers, and actors, including Suriya, Cheran, A.R. Murugadoss and V.C. Kuganathan, stressed the need for measures to protect the industry.

Sarath Kumar’s wife and actor Radhika who is also the co-producer of the film literally broke down at the conference seeing her hard work gone down the drains.

Various associations of Tamil film industry have already begun closed door sessions on what needs to be done to curb piracy and protect the film industry.

Jaggubai may be the latest bombshell but the piracy crime has been continuing for long in different levels irrespective of the region.

In 2008 a free video site had nearly 10-minute footage of Villu starring Vijay and Nayanthara fefore the film’s release. Earlier the songs of Sivaji were leaked on the internet. Lyricist Vairamuthu was shocked when somebody called him from US to know the meaning of the word ‘Aambal’ in the song Poompavai from Sivaji before the official audio release. There was a ruckus of Vinnaithandi Varuvayaa song released on the net. Also there was a news a few days ago claiming some raw footages of Vijay’s latest film Sura is available on the internet. Even the Rupees 120 crore flick Endhiran had its fair share of nervousness when stills the film was available on the net in a short time.

"In 2008 a free video site had nearly
10-minute footage of Villu"

Piracy ha not spared even Hollywood. Last year an almost finished copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman was leaked online a month before its theatrical release. Another American science fiction film, the fourth installment in the Terminator series, Terminator Salvation starring Christian Bale had to change it’s ending completely after internet leak.

The unscrupulous act of piracy definitely demands condemnation of the highest. But it is also time to do some polite introspection on the side of the film industry. Who is the culprit according to the film industry? What medium of piracy they are worried about? Does the hue and cry of the industry actually touch the hearts of the very ordinary people it accuses of abetting the crime and incurring huge losses to the film industry?

I am sure their first area of worry is the World Wide Web. Digital quality downloadable movies are available even before Jaggubai episode. But it may not have been considered serious by the industry because either they are small movies in their par lance or unrelated Hollywood or Bollywood/Kollywood movies.

Let us see the all India picture. According to a latest research done Envisional for the Motion Picture Association, India is among the top 10 countries in the world where illegal file sharing of Hollywood movies takes place. (The US is on top with 17.2% of such downloads, followed by Great Britain at 10.7%, Canada at 8.3%, India at 6.5%, Australia at 4.6%, Brazil at 3.7%, Philippines at 2.9%, Poland at 2.8%, Portugal at 2.6%, Malaysia at 2.3% and the remaining 205 countries of the world at 38.6%.)“An almost finished copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was leaked online a month before its theatrical release”

Surprisingly China is not in the top 10 internet piracy list. The report adds that the recent Hindi film Kaminey is estimated to have been downloaded over 3.5 lakh times on bittorrent with around two-thirds of the down loaders located in India.

“Who is the culprit according to thefilm industry?
What medium of piracy they are worried about?”

Video piracy market in India is estimated at an alarming Rs 1,000-crore and rising at the rate of 20 per cent every year according to some sources. As per a Northbridge Capital Asia report in early 2009, the Indian film industry, which is currently pegged at Rs 14, 400 crore, produces around 1,000 films every year but loses 14% of its revenue to video piracy.

So where is the ambiguity?
To be continued...


Most Recent