A week has passed since the film industry got together to lobby for anti-piracy measures in the wake of the illegal uploading of Sarath Kumar-starrer Jaggubhai on the Internet. But the bootleg copies and online versions of several new releases continue to do brisk business in the city.
The DVDs of such films, which are as widely circulated as any classic, enjoy a growing patronage from movie buffs. Peer-to-peer file sharing networks, meanwhile, are equally busy with increasing number of illegal movie downloads every day.
The film industry has been pushing for anti-piracy laws and running campaigns with lead stars. The police, on their part, stem the piracy trade periodically and seize bundles of first-run movies.
But facing all this head-on, piracy continues to thrive. “A uniform law across the country is essential to stop the illegal business,” said Chennai Theatre Owners’ Association president Abirami Ramanathan.
Many States such as Andhra Pradesh have managed to fight piracy, to some extent, he said. Fearing piracy, many filmmakers in Bollywood are selling off their copyrights to DVD companies within three months of the release of their films. “They don’t lose money because films nowadays don’t run for more than that,” Mr.Ramanathan said.
Nandhini J.S., Director of Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru, which is the digital and encrypted film that was seen as a solution to stop piracy, said her movie was available online a day after its release.
“Since it is difficult to copy the digital film, the film was shot on a camcorder from a theatre and floated online. The quality of the recording was poor but the business of the pirated DVDs unfortunately did well.”
Observing that the digital films and antipiracy software are not the permanent solutions, she said that only an attitude change in people can save filmmakers.
On the attempts made to crack down on internet piracy, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Cyber Crime), M. Sudhakar, said the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of websites that have a history of illegally uploading films were frequently tracked and monitored.
But zeroing in on the culprits who upload films on net was more difficult than arresting sellers of bootleg DVDs, he said.
“There should be universal laws to prevent copyright violations. Since there is no tangible boundary and the network is worldwide, many get away with the crime. Though we have not received many complaints from film industry on online piracy as much as pirated DVDs, we are monitoring the situation,” he said.
Online piracy does not have as much impact as pirated DVDs in the State, said Film Distributors’ Association president Kalaipuli Sekar.
“Over 90 per cent of our market is domestic and the number of people who download movies from internet are so far negligible. Multiplexes are keeping the business going by providing a good theatre-going experience,” he said, adding “our profit margins have come down sharply and making small-budget movies has become a gamble. Piracy is our livelihood threat.”