Piracy is a growing global epidemic and the proportion of the menace has reached such a critical point that the very existence of the global entertainment industry is at stake. This is the one point which all the speakers of a session on ‘Defending Intellectual Property: How Far Have We Succeeded?’ have subscribed. One speaker after another opined that piracy was a major issue confronting the global entertainment industry and had to be tackled on a war-footing by every segment of the industry.
Expressing concern over this menace, which has left the very livelihood of the creative people at stake, a panel of speakers discussed the various ways and means to safeguard intellectual property and stressed on the synergy between various stakeholders in fighting piracy across the world.
Moderated by Indian Music Industry Association president Vijay John Lazarus, the session started in the right earnest with a short video presentation by the moderator himself which threw light on the several measures the music industry has been taking to curb piracy and its zero tolerance approach towards this growing menace.
This session had an eminent panel of speakers who included Time Warner Hong Kong senior vice-president for international relations & public policy Hugh L Stephens, DLA Piper China managing partner Jingzhou Tao, Motion Picture of America executive vice-president and director for worldwide anti-piracy operations John G Malcolm, WIPO Switzerland director of the copyright law division Jorgen Savy Blomqvist, T Sengupta Associates chief executive Tamali Sengupta, Stonebridge International senior advisor Raymond E Vickery, Government of India registrar of copyrights Rohit Kansal, and Isan International Agency Geneva chief executive Patrick Atallah.
Giving an international perspective on the piracy issue, Motion Picture of America’s Malcolm said in 2005, the piracy had cost $18.2 billion to the worldwide motion pictures industry and added that this was not a problem confronting the US alone. He continued say that piracy was committed in a variety of ways including,"the Internet piracy, copying, distribution of discs, broadcasts and even public performance’’. This is a highly profitable business with very little investment, he added. “In terms of film piracy, as much as 90 percent of them are camcordered and distributed all over the world in a matter of days, Malcolm said, adding, “The problem is a massive one.”
On online piracy, Malcolm said there were millions of people online at any given time around the world downloading filmed entertainment and added that in terms of fighting piracy we need to be organised and creative.”
Speaking on the topic Bollywood-Hollywood, Stonebridge International’s Vickery said it was not just about revenue loss; but the very existence of this industry was at stake because of this scourge. “We have to identify and measure the harm of piracy and educate the public about this,” Vickery said, adding enforcement was absolutely the key. Vickery concluded his speech by saying, “Together we can fight the scourge of piracy and thereby, increase the job and promote the welfare of all concerned within the entertainment industry.”
Giving an overview of optical disc piracy, Time Warner Hong Kong’s Stephens spoke about traditional piracy and digital piracy. While in traditional piracy analog copies of popular movies, music and books are pirated, computer programmes were always stolen in the digital format. Digital piracy, Stephens said, could be interpreted in three phases. In phase I (the early 1990s to now), optical media thieves gradually replace the analog thieves, engaging massive commercial piracy. In the second phase, the rise of online piracy has seen distribution of copyrighted materials over digital networks through hacking, CD-R burning, and in the third phase will see the rise of mobile devices, including ringtones getting pirated.
The registrar of copyrights Rohit Kansal said piracy issues remain on the top of the I&B ministry agenda. “The copyright law is so stringent in India that the offence is non-bailable and it is a cognizable offence,” Kansal said and added “we need to have a multi-disciplinary, multi-prong approach to fight this menace.”
Tamali Sengupta of T Sengupta Associates said different forms of piracy was possible or easier with the digital technology and added that as many as 85 percent of the cable homes viewed at least two pirated movies in a day. Attributing the insufficient outlets for legal rentals and purchase as reasons for the rise in piracy, she said considering the level of technology penetration in the country, the government had done reasonably well to contain piracy menace. As the economy continues to sizzle, and technology adoption goes up India is going to face a different set of challenges, she predicted.
The next speaker was Jingzhou Tao of DLA Piper China who dwelt on the piracy issue in China, which is said to be the world capital of piracy. Attributing the growing piracy issue in China to the huge production capacity, Tao blamed the Chinese government for failing to implement the Intellectual Property Rights Act effectively.
Jorgen Blomqvist of WIPO Switzerland and Patrick Atallah of Isan International Agency spoke about how their organisations and have been helping in fighting piracy effectively.