Piracy – The Menace In The Film Making Industry

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Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen, since the time pirate-bay came into the torrent scene with P2P(peer to peer) sharing network, online piracy has increased dramatically(the founders have been jailed, but since then the pirate-bay network has grown drastically). Earlier it was easy to catch pirates selling DVDs on street stalls and shops clandestinely (even though the number of arrests would be a pittance!). This is no longer the case now. Now, with the penetration of internet, the menace has only compounded. To understand this, just look at the figures of losses. For example, look at the download and sharing data presented by Tecxipio, a German data analytics company.

Downloading of Hindi movies increased by nearly 30 percent in four years between 2013 and 2017. For 2018, the data is very sobering: Padmaavat was the most shared hindi film in P2P networks with 73 lakh shares between January and June in 157 days. Other films like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (52.65 lakh), Baaghi 2 (52.34 lakh), PadMan (46.03 lakh), Raid (45.60 lakh) etc have also been severely hit. You can see why a typical film producer in Mumbai has a huge task cut out for him.

Even more telling is the data from overseas markets. The Indian film industry barely earns 8% of its revenues from abroad. This low figure could be due to a 250% increases in downloads of Hindi films in Tanzania and 100 percent increase in Ireland. The figures for Germany and other European countries are along similar ranges.

In order to combat this, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has amended the Copyright Act last year, in which the accused will face a fine of 1 Million Rupees and 3 years imprisonment. A welcome move by the Govt even though it is very late at the moment.

Some opine that the GST should be reduced for movies so that ticket prices will be cheaper. But as far as I am concerned, I have doubts whether this will make much of difference. You see, downloading movies is far more inexpensive than buying a movie ticket. Even if right now there’s a talk of a new technology where movies can be broadcasted straight to homes without ever travelling to a nearby theatre, it will still face the challenges of piracy, especially if screen recording software can be developed to pirate home broadcasted movies.

This is why as per my experience as a film producer, I would advise anyone wanting to enter into the film business to make sure that you make maximum money during the first few weeks of theatre release itself. Pour as much money as you can (preferably more than 50% of production costs in marketing) to recover expenses.

Atleast, the silver lining here is that pirated movies are mostly of poor quality even during the release of the movie itself which will make audiences want to watch them online in OTTs or in theatres. Particularly in case of OTTs, there’s a tendency of viewers to watch their favourite shows online rather than torrenting them. So, keeping control over Digital release is very crucial and if done properly, it can minimize losses. But to eradicate piracy, well we need loads of good luck with that!

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