Status check on defending IP rights at FICCI

MUMBAI: With the boom in the media space, content owners are increasingly worrying about protecting their intellectual property rights (IPR) and are proactive in the fight against piracy. Day two of FICCI FRAMES 2007 saw industry leaders running a status check on defending intellectual property and analyzing how far we’ve succeeded in curbing the evil called piracy?

The session was moderated by Indian Music Industry president V.J. Lazarus and speakers included Time Warner US senior vice president international relations and public policy Asia Pacific Hugh Stephens, DLA Piper China managing partner Jingzhou Tao, Motion Picture Association executive vice president and director worldwide anti piracy operations John G. Malcolm, Isan managing director Patrik Attallah, Indian government registrar of copyrights and deputy secretary Rohit Kansal, US-India Business Council senior advisor Raymond Vickery, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) copyright law division director Jorgen Savy Blomqvist and T Sen Gupta & Associates CEO Tamali Sen Gupta.

Lazarus pointed out that the Indian Music Industry (IMI) has until conducted raids in 250 Indian cities and as many as 10,000 raids have been conducted in the last five years. IMI has also been active in shutting down close to 630 Indian music downloading websites that offered illegal downloads. Three CD plants were raided and sealed valued at Rs 500 million (Rs 50 crores).

IMI has also introduced forensic methods to build evidence and has used it successfully so far in three piracy cases. In 943 cases, IMI has helped in convictions ranging from 15 days imprisonment to three years rigorous imprisonment for culprits thus giving IMI a conviction rate of 85 per cent. The music industry body has also introduced over 100 police training programmes specific to copyrights.

IMI’s anti-piracy actions have supported the industry’s lobby to keep it excise exempt on physical product; exemption of service tax on copyright transaction and bring down VAT from

12.5 per cent to four per cent.

Time Warner’s Stephens said that in 2006 the estimated optical disc production capacity in India was through 20 plants, 166 production lines, which had an estimated capacity of 581 million. Stephens also highlighted the fact that when compared to drug trafficking, optical disc piracy was way too huge. “While pirated DVDs account for 1150 per cent, drug trafficking of cocaine accounts for 1000 per cent, heroin for 360 per cent and coffee for 18 per cent,” he said.

Stephens stressed on the fact that optical disc regulations were only present in select countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, Nigeria and Turkey. The regulation is likely to come in effect in at least four more countries namely Bahrain, Oman, Serbia and Montenegro. India too is likely to have a regulation on the same soon. A proposal was submitted by FICCI, IMI and NASSCOM to the information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi at the inaugural session of FICCI FRAMES on 26 March, 2007.

The optical disc law has 10 elements, informed Stephens. They are: establishing licensing of plants, establishing registration system for those engaged in commercial burning, providing for inspection authority, ensuring that sample discs for forensic purposes are collected from every OD plant, applying “source identification code” to discs, blanks, masters/stampers, establishing licensee record-keeping requirements, establishing a mechanism to deny, suspend or revoke licenses, establishing government record-keeping requirements, establishing adequate penalties for violations of a license, including criminal penalties and the possibility of plant closure and implementing automatic controls on the export of discs, and export and import of equipment and raw materials.

Kansal added, “Enforcement is extremely important. Anti-piracy activity remains the top priority on the Indian government’s agenda. Infringement of copyright is a non-bailable warrent. We will be looking at plugging in the gaps as and when they arise.” He also informed that the Copyright Act is in the process of being revised soon.

Highlighting a problem of film piracy, Sengupta said that one of the reasons piracy in the space was prevalent is because there aren’t sufficient legal outlets for Hollywood movies. “Hence without a legal option, people who want to purchase are unable to do so,” she said.

She also pointed out that while the courts have been proactive in curbing pirates and punishing them, the entire process is very slow.

Hetal Adesara

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