[FICCI FRAMES IN FOCUS] A Must-Win Battle: Grappling with Content Piracy in a Hyper-Connected World


Varun Ramdas, Legal Analyst, Koan Advisory

Despite rapid growth spurred by digitalisation, India’s Media and Entertainment ecosystem is yet to achieve its full potential owing largely to rampant piracy. A study conducted by the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia calculated losses incurred by India due to broadcast piracy for the year 2010-11 at USD 1.4 billion. By 2022, this number is expected to rise to USD 3.1 billion. Recognizing the enormity of the challenge across various content-distribution platforms, relevant government bodies are undertaking a slew of measures to address content piracy in India.

Measures taken in India

Sushil Satpute, Director at the Department for Promotion of Industry an Internal Trade (DPIIT) outlined the Department’s approach towards content piracy in a discussion at FICCI Frames. Mr. Satpute asserted that ever since regulation of copyright was brought within the ambit of the DPIIT, the Department has identified some of the key “entry points” to address urgent concerns. For instance, understanding that piracy is prevalent owing to a lack of consumer awareness on copyright, the DPIIT’s specialised Cell for Intellectual Property Promotion and Management (CIPAM) regularly undertakes awareness drives aimed at students, industry, and the judiciary. CIPAM is currently also in the process of drawing up an ‘Infringing Website List’ to block platforms that host pirated content from India’s internet.

Such initiatives are partly inspired by the continuous efforts of the Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit (MCDCU), whose successes are regularly amplified on Creative First. Brijesh Singh, an Indian Police Service officer who drives the initiative, said that besides conducting capacity-building activities with various stakeholders to raise levels of consumer-awareness, the Maharashtra Government is also proactively issuing notices to companies that advertise on platforms that host pirated content with the objective of throttling piracy-linked revenue streams. However, he pointed out that use of VPNs or proxies and territorial limitations of the measures undertaken inhibits the fight to eradicate piracy altogether.

Further, the DPIIT recently floated a draft national e-commerce policy which adopts a strict position on counterfeiting and piracy both in material goods or services as well as content. Additionally, the Cinematograph Act is in the process of being amended to criminalise camcorder piracy.

Piracy globally

Patrick Charnley (Director, Legal and Licencing, IFPI) and Benoit Ginisty (Chief Representative, International Federation of Film Producers Assocation – or FIAPF, Belgium) were appreciative of the efforts undertaken by the Indian Government; adding that the EU faces similar challenges related to the use of VPNs and proxy servers by pirates, which make enforcement efforts much harder. Mr. Charnely added that the theme of piracy enforcement is increasingly connected to the responsibility of digital platforms and ways in which the rule of law can be maintained over the digital space. Yew Kuin Cheah (APAC Content Protection Team, Fox) summarized the Asian perspective, stressing that the agility of content pirates plagues the efficacy of enforcement efforts. More cross-border collaborations also need to be explored to address extant challenges in digital content piracy.          




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