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News |  20 Jul 2009 | by AnitaIyer

Music industry embraces MPDA act

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MUMBAI: The new ordinance passed under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) Act by Maharashtra government has come as a sign of relief for the Bollywood and the music industry. Under the new resolution, piracy as an offence has been included under the stringent MPDA act last week.

This legislation, believes the industry, will help curb revenue losses incurred to the industry due to audio and video piracy. The police are now empowered to book people involved in piracy under the MPDA, wherein an offender can be detained and sent to jail for a period of one year.

Under the new ordinance, a pirate arrested for the first time will be charged under the Copyright act, which is punishable with a jail term between six months and three years and/or a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000. If the pirate is caught for second offence, he would be detained under the MPDA act. The act enables the police to hook the pirate without bail in jail for a minimum of 90 days.

Additionally, an anti-piracy cell is being created within the state government of Maharashtra to oversee enforcement related to the Act. The ordinance was signed by the governor SC Jamir.

Maharashtra is not the first state to pass such an act to tackle piracy; a similar law was passed in Tamil Nadu. The TN act passed in 2005 has detained many pirates under the Goonda act. But has that really helped in reducing piracy? IMI secretary general Savio D'Souza says, No. The number of raids in Tamil Nadu is going up by 1000 raids per year and so if the act was effective it should have shown results. Also Tamil Nadu is the only state where there is a separate police force to address the issue of piracy called the "video anti-piracy cell; even then they have not been able to control piracy with the Goonda Act."

Reacting on the new ordinance of MPDA, D'Souza says, It is going to be good act on paper but unless and until the industry comes forward and supports the police in implementing the act by support the police to conduct the raids and then providing copy right documentation, it cannot be effective. The industry has failed miserably in building systems to help law enforcement authorities point out the original copyright owners. The music industry is the only industry that has provided the resources to the police officials to carry out anti-piracy raids....

Founder of NGO Antipiracy Worldwide M M Satish, known as an anti-piracy crusader is glad that the stringent act is in place. He says, By this act, my 14 years of struggle on anti-piracy has paid off and we have been trying to bring about such an act in place for long. From the past 8 to 9 months, piracy has been on its peak and this was an appropriate time to pass the law. The law is effective enough but needs to be enforced stringently without the enforcers taking undue advantage of it....

D'Souza suggests that the film industry must invest money to tackle piracy. He adds, Every year about 800 movies are made and if the film makers contribute about Rs 3,00,000 per movie for anti-piracy, it would add on around Rs 240 million. The IMI spends about Rs 30 million a year to conduct 3,500 raids, assuming Rs 240 million pumped in anti-piracy raids, we would be able to conduct 25,000 raids which is a sizeable amount of action on ground. The industry mentions that the losses to piracy are Rs 10 billion and Rs 24 million is a small investment compared to that. Unfortunately, the industry does not want address the problem but continues crying wolf."

Suggesting solutions for tacking piracy, Savio notes, Any new artist or musician who wants to protect his work from being duplicated can approach IMI individually and we can work out solutions to protect against piracy. The IMI has conducted 18000 raids in the last 10 years and achived more than 3000 convictions clearly indicating that if the industry and police work together results are possible."

Satish also points out that the law is also applicable to the buyers buying pirated products. Consumers must know that by buying pirated stuff they are investing in crime. Also, they need to be careful as the law is applicable to the buyers as well although the enforcement would be more on the sellers  

T-Series president - marketing media publishing (TV) Vinod Bhanushali says, The new ordinance of piracy being including under the MPDA act is a great step towards tackling piracy. Such an act will add value to the intellectual property of the original holder. Curbing piracy will increase the revenues of the music labels which have been suffering at the cost of piracy for many years. Also, the act is passed at a time when the industry is hit due to slowdown and this would help the music labels garner revenues....

According to IMI, the music industry's annual revenue stands at around Rs six billion, because it loses around Rs 14.5 billion to piracy every year. Out of this, physical music piracy alone accounts for Rs six billion, mobile chip piracy around Rs three billion, outdoor events without the requisite license costs us around Rs two billion, radio stations Rs one billion and TV and the Internet cost us Rs 1.5 billion.radio stations Rs one billion and TV and the Internet cost us Rs 1.5 billion.