The seizure of a haul of pirated CDs of Tamil films in Kancheepuram has raised fresh questions about attempts to curb the practice. Nearly 60 pirated CDs of movies such as ‘poda podi’, ‘kumki’, ‘thandavam’, ‘ammaavin kaipesi’ etc. were seized from two outlets in Siva Kanchi police station limits on Saturday. On the same day, the Vishnu Kanchi police seized 77 CDs of ‘thuppaki’, ‘neerparavai’, ‘naduvula konjam pakkathai kaanom’, ‘neethaane en ponvasantham’ from a CD outlet.

However, whether steps such as these will have any impact remains to be seen as follow-up is often lacking. Those associated with the film are keen on curbing the problem during the time of the release. In October for instance, the producers of ‘Saattai’ and ‘Thandavam’ sought the help of the Police Commissioner. Meanwhile, memoranda and petitions are submitted by various organisations of film artistes. The police, on their part, sometimes take strict action. CDs are confiscated and those involved, arrested. Till October 2011, the video piracy and copyright wing of the Chennai police booked 135 cases.

However the process slows down after that, say sources. Those arrested are employees in the shops and the owners get away.

When the case goes to court, the representatives of the film are not available for the proceedings. During the months that have elapsed between the arrests and case coming to court, the producer and the director have little or no time.

Sources say these days, the police do not even list representatives of the film industry as witnesses as the chances of their appearing are slim. Slowly, the case winds up.

Industry experts say part of the reason is that producers do not really have a stake in the film after the distribution rights and television rights are sold. The film returns to the producer only after five years (which is the duration for which the rights are sold). They often prefer to concentrate on the next project. Thus, the industry needs to focus on cooperating with the police, say stakeholders.

South Indian Artists Association secretary Radha Ravi says that although strong laws were in effect, much remains to be done both on the part of the industry and the government in curbing piracy. He urges stronger enforcement as in the case of Karnataka.

The film can be copied at many stages. A pirated copy could be made at the lab where the final print is processed. The first time the movie is copied to a CD is when it has to be submitted to the Censor Board. The foreign print of the movie leaves the country some days before the release and this is another vulnerable point. There is a need to monitor the process at every stage, say film industry sources.

These days, producers apply the water mark in the print itself. This helps them identify which print was used for video copying and thus, find the theatre or distributor who was responsible.

A lot of the responsibility also lies with the public, says producer S. Thanu. It will be a big step forward if they resolve not to watch pirated CDs, he says.

(With inputs from V. Venkatasubramanian)

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