Film blames cable for piracy

Biz calls for crackdown on cassette thieves

NEW DELHI — The Indian film industry has for the past several years been waging a war on film piracy — and now it is fingering cowboy cable operators.

On Tuesday, protesters — from clap boys to superstars — marched from Mehboob studios in suburban Bandra to Azad Maidan in Bombay to focus attention on a problem that they complain is siphoning off revenue from the world of celluloid.

G.P. Shirke, chairman of the Film Makers’ Combine, said that within a couple of days of the release of a film, it is often shown on cable TV. In some cases, pirated cassettes of the latest films were in circulation even before the formal release of the movie.

“At this rate, who will go to the cinema?” he asked. The industryites say that if the authorities get tough with the pirates, then the problem can be solved.

Film producers and distribs have appointed agents to track down cable operators who show pirated cassettes.

A film industry representative alleged that large cable operators were indulging in the illegal practice of screening films in violation of the copyright laws.

“The pirated cassettes are procured by the operators from overseas distributors to whom the producers have sold their film before the release of the film. These are then smuggled into the country and shown over cable networks,” the representative said.

Jagjit Singh Kohli, president of a large cable MSO called In Cablenet, said: “We pay large sums to buy copyrights of films. If films are screened illegally by other cable operators, we too suffer huge losses.”

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