MPAA and Bollywood team to tackle piracy

Industry estimates losses at well over $1 billion a year

The Motion Picture Assn. of America and Bollywood have teamed up to tackle rampant piracy in Bollywood, which cost the industry an estimated $959 million or 60% of its total value in 2008, according to an Ernst & Young report.

The initiative was launched at the close of the annual FICCI Frames industry conference in Mumbai on Thursday by MPAA chairman Dan Glickman and Bollywood bigwigs Yash Chopra (Yash Raj Films), Mukesh Bhatt (Vishesh Films), Sanjeev Lamba (Reliance Big Entertainment), Harish Dayani (Moser Baer), Siddharth Roy Kapur (UTV), Ram Mirchandani (Eros Intl.) and Sandeep Bhargava (Studio 18).

Sources estimate the losses to physical and online piracy at well over $1 billion annually if the strong South Indian industry, which accounts for over 75% of all Indian film revenues, is taken into account.

Glickman said in his keynote address, “These last two years of Hindi co-productions, joint television ventures, shared distribution rights, joint ownership of technology companies have all led to Indian and MPA member studios working in tandem. Such co-operation fosters conducive environments that allow movies like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘My Name Is Khan’ to achieve global box office success.

“As successful as we have been or can be, we need to come together to overcome common obstacles to our joint success. While piracy is damaging creative communities across the world, it need not be inevitable if we take steps to collectively address this problem.”

His views were echoed by Bhatt, who said, “Online copyright theft in India is growing rapidly. Two reports last year placed India in the top 10 countries worldwide for P2P infringements. There is a community of Internet users who view piracy as an activity without consequence. The government needs to sit down with rights holders and find a solution to this menace.”

In 2009, India’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni, asked the information ministers of over 30 states to implement measures to curb film piracy. She suggested that cutting entertainment tax on theaters would bring down ticket prices and attract more customers.