The villain of the Malayalam movie industry — piracy — is back after a brief break. And the industry seems to be shadowboxing with no gains at all.

Makers of the recently released Mumbai Police and Ladies and Gentleman are yet to overcome the shudder from realising that their movies were uploaded illegally online.

Rosshan Andrrews, director of Mumbai Police, said over 1,000 viewers had downloaded the movie as per initial estimates.

“It might be bigger. We had lodged a complaint before the State anti-piracy cell and also issued notice to the service provider to remove the movie from the internet. But illegal uploading of the movie had made an impact on the box-office fortunes of the movie,” he said.

Stating that the movie was uploaded from abroad, N. Sudheesh, Superintendent of the State anti-piracy cell, said his unit had limitations in initiating legal proceedings as the copyright infringer was operating from outside the country.

Police have urged producers to step up vigil against online piracy. Mr. Sudheesh said the anti-piracy cell has asked the producers to ensure that satellite rights are given only after a stipulated period from the release of a movie. He said illegal CDs of a recent flick entered the market as the producer gave the rights immediately after the movie hit the screen.

Rosshan Andrrews said the lack of a stringent law that includes provision to book those who illegally download copyrighted material under the Goonda Act was the main reason for the spread of online piracy. “The government should act tough against the infringers as the film industry contributes a lot to the State exchequer,” he said.

But N. S. Gopalakrishnan, Director of Inter-university Centre for IPR Studies at the Cochin University of Science and Technology, said there was no legal provision in any country to act against those downloading content from the internet.

“It’s like trying to book a person who listens to a song rendered by someone in public without permission amounting to copyright violation. Punishment should be given to those uploading the content illegally and not the user,” he said.

Prof. Goplakrishnan said the film industry should block the unauthorised uploading of movies or develop an indigenous technology to check online piracy. “It’s a practical issue and any move to punish those downloading the content will be impossible,” he said.

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