MUMBAI: Schoolchildren across the country will soon be learning about the dangers of online movie piracy through a comic book launched by the recently formed Bollywood-Hollywood anti-piracy coalition. Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Maharashtra home minister R. R. Patil, and Mumbai Police commissioner D. Sivanandan, launched the book entitled Escape from Terror Byte City, at the inaugural session of Cyber Safety Week in Mumbai.
In the coming months, 10,000 comic books will be distributed in Mumbai to children aged five to ten in schools, multiplexes and malls. A local adaption of a comic originally developed by New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft, it tells the story of two boys who become trapped in a virtual city after downloading an unauthorized copy of a movie from a peer-to-peer filesharing site. The comic will be published in three languages – Hindi, Marathi and English – and has been endorsed by the Department of Information Technology, Mumbai Police, Data Security Council of India (DSCI) and the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM).
UTV Motion Pictures vice president Prakash Nathan said: "Internet piracy is becoming increasingly rampant among online audiences. We must begin to reach out to people across age brackets and social strata. School children are at an impressionable age and do not always know the distinction between legal and illegal. The comic book is a valuable step in educating them about online piracy."
Reliance Big Entertainment vice president Sanjay Tandon added: "There’s no doubt that Internet piracy has hurt the film industry. It jeopardizes the ability for a movie to make money and impacts the level of investment available for new films. Further, it is also important to remember that profits from piracy can be diverted to fund other illegal activities as well."
Motion Picture Dist. Association (India) managing director Rajiv Dalal added, "As the first building block of our brand-new educational initiative, we are targeting kids who are influenced by what they read and see. We hope that putting this in comic form makes the message more accessible, interesting and exciting to them. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Human Resource Development to extend this initiative and have this comic distributed to all school children across the country."
"This is an excellent initiative by the film industry to raise awareness of the dangers of online theft," said Motion Picture Association Asia Pacific president and managing director Mike Ellis. "The comic book was a success when we launched it in New Zealand last September and we are glad to see an adaptation being distributed in India. While all of us in the industry continue to work with the government to address this issue, we must also get the message across to the public: by saying no to illegal movie content, they are supporting the investment and hard work of the creative community in India who produce the movies they love."