BANGALORE: A recent screening of a documentary at Suchitra Film Society titled Partners in Crime, directed by Paromita Vohra, spoke in detail about the piracy menace which has been plaguing the music and film industry for years. The movie showed how rampant piracy is, thanks to the Internet, and how the police are hand-in-glove with vendors selling illegal CDs.
The screening was followed by a discussion on the same subject in the presence of former director of Information Department, K V R Tagore and director of record label, Lahari Recording Company, Lahari Velu.
The cinema and music industry in the State alone lost an average of Rs 250 crore in the past couple of years and not a single case of piracy has ended in conviction till date.We see blatant piracy in the form of vendors selling pirated CDs on the footpaths or illegal sites on the Internet, which lets you download songs and movies free of cost. Blogs share MP3 music. In a country where there is limited public knowledge on copyright laws, seeing piracy eating up the licensed owner’s money is not surprising. The film raises the question: With most people having an internet connection downloading material for free, are they living out a brand new cultural freedom — or are they criminals?
Tagore, who himself has decades of experience dealing with piracy rackets, praised the documentary for being realistic, truthful and informative. He said, “It’s a very tricky situation while dealing with piracy. There were times when we caught innocent because our informers turned out to be informers to the other party as well and we ended up trapping an innocent while the real culprit escaped.”
The anti-piracy Bill (proposed Goonda Act) to contain piracy of films and music was also discussed. Lahiri said, “We are fighting for the Goonda Act for the past 28 years. Our industry is already losing crores of rupees and will continue to lose, if the Act fails to materialise. With piracy, our music industry is going to collapse and the quality of music is going to deteriorate.”
Some argued that free internet gives them a choice of music they could have never imagined in the past and hence, prefer that medium instead of buying original CDs. To which Lahari said, “Not that buying original Kannada audio CDs are expensive. You just have to shell a few extra bucks to buy authentic stuff and that way you are not depriving the artist of the royalities he or she is entitled to and are encouraging them to continue making good music.” He added, “Technology is great, but it’s killing us. It is eating up revenue meant for the creators of music. Unfortunately, even educated people buy pirated CDs.”
K V R Tagorqe suggested that the Kannada film industry should put pressure and start their own investigation team with the help of retired police officers and create a cell similar to the police cyber crime cell, and to make piracy crimes non-bailable.