Indian court sentences movie pirate

MUMBAI: In a ruling that underscores the Indian government’s increasing commitment to combating intellectual property theft, a Mumbai court jailed a movie pirate for seven months and fined him Rs 55,000 (approximately $1,250).


Piracy in India affects the Indian film industry more than American producers and distributors. It is estimated that only 20 per cent of pirated goods infringe the copyrights of foreign film titles. The remaining 80 per cent of pirated product infringes the copyrights of domestic films. According to Government estimates, the entertainment industry loses up to Rs 17 billion (Rs 1700 crores) annually on account of piracy.


On 27 October, 2005, acting on information provided by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) following an investigation, Mumbai police officers arrested Sameer Ahmed Qureshi, a wholesale distributor of pirated movies, seizing several thousand DVDs infringing the latest Hollywood and Indian movies, including pirated copies of titles such as Transporter 2, Fantastic 4, Rush Hour, Troy and Mr. & Mrs. Smith.


“The Motion Picture Association is encouraged by this ruling, which demonstrates the importance Indian courts are placing on the protection of intellectual property rights,” said Motion Picture Association senior vice president and regional director, Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.


“The tremendous damage caused to the movie industry in India by pirates of course significantly impacts our member companies’ business, but it is local producers and distributors who are hit hardest, and it is workers on locally produced films who are at greatest risk of losing income and jobs. The protection of intellectual property rights fosters innovation and is vital to economic growth and job creation around the world,” he added.


“The sentence handed down by the Ballard Pier Court marked only the sixth movie piracy conviction in India. While we are encouraged by the increased recognition the courts are giving to intellectual property theft, there are at the moment more than 2,000 additional movie piracy cases working their way through the judicial system. It is our hope that more resources will be allocated to intellectual property crimes, which so badly damage India’s economy and society,” said MPA India Legal Counsel Chander M. Lall.


Since the beginning of 2004, the MPA has conducted close to 1,000 raids and seizure operations in India in cooperation with law enforcement authorities. Additionally, civil raids have been conducted through court-appointed Local Commissioners in civil suits initiated by MPA member companies.