Film Piracy and CSR

Film Piracy and CSR

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Can CSR be a catalyst for controlling piracy ?

In the cover story, we have tried encapsulating one of the major issues that our film industry is combating with. In this story, we have talked about the origin of piracy, its effect on film viewing, financial loses that the industry incurs due to piracy. Along with the challenges, the story also looks into the various Government interventions that have been taken to curb film piracy. The story culminates with few recommendations/suggestions for the film industry to take up as part of their CSR initiative.

The Indian film industry is one of the largest film industries in the world. Around 1000 films are produced each year in India. It earns around $2 billion from legitimate sources such as screening at theatres, home videos and television rights. However, according to industry sources, the clandestine film piracy industry earns around $2.7 billion. Red Chillies Entertainment, a production house promoted by actor Shah Rukh Khan, was a victim of film piracy for its film Dilwale in 2016. It grossed Rs. 148 crore at the box office but its pirated version, circulated a day before its release, and accounted for more earnings. Films like Kaabil, Great Grand Masti and Udta Punjab have all faced a similar fate. Uday Singh, Managing Director, Motion Picture Distributors Association (India), said, Content theft or piracy in the film industry originates from camcording in cinema halls.

Effects of piracy on the Indian film industry

Uday Singh informed that the infringed copies appear online within a few hours of a films release. He added, The Indian film industry loses around Rs. 18000 crore ($2.7 billion) and over 60,000 jobs every year because of piracy. This is also the figure that the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) brandishes in its magazine, quoting noted filmmaker Anurag Basu. According to the latest KPMG-FICCI report on the Indian media and entertainment sector, the Indian film industry is projected to grow from Rs. 138.2 billion ($2.09 billion) in 2015 to Rs. 226.3 billion ($3.43 billion) by 2020 at an annual growth rate of 10.5%. But piracy could also grow exponentially unless it is checked.

Origin of pirated copies:

Earlier, the origin of pirated copies emerged from prints sent to overseas markets, which made their way into the Indian markets shortly after the films release. This has changed in recent times due to technology. According to a recent survey conducted by the anti-piracy cell, pirated movies in India are seen more on the move, in trains and planes, on smartphones and laptops.

Today, big film producers get a John Doe order from court before release. It means the onus is on the internet service provider (ISP) to block access to every website/torrent that may facilitate illegal downloads of a movie. Dealing with piracy and copyright issues in the digital world is tricky and often futile. Even if some torrent sites are shut down, other such sites mushroom within hours.

Abirami Ramanathan, a producer, distributor and exhibitor, said, We have caught nearly 20 theatres in Tamil Nadu for abetting piracy, and some of them were charged with the Goonda Act. But after a few weeks, the persons concerned came out on bail. At certain multiplex chain in.

Bengaluru, as many as seven Tamil films were pirated over the course of two months. The multiplex chain claims it was done by unknown individuals without its knowledge. However, we have moved a criminal case and have solid evidence that it could not have taken place without their knowledge.

Where does the pirated DVD chain lead to?

A survey conducted by The Times of India in Kolkata, found that the piracy chain that ends with a street-smart peddler begins with the highest echelons of film industry, with links to Mumbai, Singapore and Dubai. Even pirated DVDs with censor board watermarks were recently found. So how do these DVDs come into the market? A source from the industry stated that there may be insiders in the censor board and distribution houses who sell these copies for up to Rs. 5 lakh to a few shady dealers. The copies are then uploaded on certain private portals that have dedicated passkeys. For a few lakhs, these copies can be downloaded and replicated on DVD.

A DVD dealer stated, Linkmen from Dubai are actively involved in the business. Once downloaded, a few copies are made, which are sold to distributors and more copies are made in well-equipped down market warehouses. Finally, cheap DVDs worth `50 hit the street-side stalls.

Recently, Anjan Dutt, national award-winning filmmaker from Kolkata, was shocked when he was shown a pirated copy of his film Abar Byomkesh with censor board watermarks. He said, Copies shouldnt come out of the censor board. I will definitely look into it. However, the board denied any leaks. Producer of Dutts movie, Srikant Mohta said, It is evident that the copies are leaked. We have to have a serious talk with the censor board on this.

The home video movie market was worth Rs. 1400-1500 crore nationally but it has now shrunk to Rs. 250 crore. Even those who buy pirated DVDs can be prosecuted but such steps are hardly undertaken. Barun Das a criminal lawyer stated, A buyer knows well that he is buying a pirated DVD. But it is a bailable offence and the fine can be Rs. 2000 at the most.

Battle against piracy

Indian film icon Amitabh Bachchan has urged people to stop piracy and illegal streaming of films. He has recently tweeted, The magic of movies has always been watching an extraordinary story come to life on a giant screen. Illegally streaming or downloading stories is not cool and will never give you this experience. So, do your bit. Spread the word to stop piracy.

Government intervention in tackling with Film Piracy in India:

Film industry has been demanding for a long time, that Government should consider Amendments to the law preventing camcording and piracy. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi made an announcement at the inaugural function of the National Museum of Indian Cinema at Mumbai on 19th January 2019 to tackle the menace of camcording and piracy. The Ministry of I&B piloted this matter for consideration of Union Cabinet.

To address the burning issue of the film industry on film piracy the Government worked towards the implementation of the Cinematographer Act, 1952 in a stringent manner, the details of which is given below, the act was formulated and implemented with the objective of keeping a strong watch on the various sources of piracy through the industry suffers heavy losses.

Cabinet approves amendment to the Cinematograph Act, 1952 Penal Provisions for unauthorized camcording and duplication of films Violators to face three years jail term or fine of Rs. 10 lakh or both.

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for introducing the Cinematograph Amendment Bill, 2019 to amend to the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The Bill aims to tackle Films piracy by including the penal provisions for unauthorized cam cording and duplication of films.


In order to tackle the menace of film piracy, the Amendments provide for:

  • Insertion of new Section 6AA for prohibition of unauthorized recording

    The following section shall be inserted after Section 6A of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

    6AA: Notwithstanding any law for the time being in force, no person shall without the written authorization of the author be permitted to use any audio visual recording device to knowingly make or transmit or attempt to make or transmit or abet the making or transmission of a copy of a film or a part thereof.

    *The expression author shall have the same meaning as assigned to it in the clause (d) of section 2 of the Copyright act of 1957.

  • Amendment in Section 7 to introduce Penal Provisions for violating provisions of section 6AA: In section 7 of the principal act, after subsection 1 the following subsection (1A) shall be inserted:

    If any person contravenes the provisions of section 6AA, he shall be punishable with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years or with fine which may extend to 10 lakh rupees or with both.

    The proposed amendments would increase Industry revenues, boost job creation, fulfil important objectives of Indias National IP policy and will give relief against piracy and infringing content online.

    There has been a lot of research on online piracy and its effect on the finances and losses the Indian Film indutrsy bears, one of such reasearch article named Online Piracy of Indian Movies: Is the Film Industry firing at the wrong Target written by Arul George Scaria begins her article mentioning the following;

    India has recently introduced some digital rights management (DRM) provisions to the Indian copyright law with the objective of providing adequate protection for copyrighted material in the online digital environment. Film industry was one of the biggest lobbying groups behind the new DRM provisions in India, and the industry has been consistently trying to portray online piracy as a major threat. The Indian film industry also extensively uses John Doe orders from the high courts in India to prevent the access of Internet users to websites suspected to be hosting pirated material. This paper explores two questions in the context of the new DRM provisions in India: (1) Is online piracy a threat to the Indian film industry? And (2) are the present measures taken by the film industry the optimal measures for addressing the issue of online piracy? Based on data from an extensive empirical survey conducted in India, this paper questions the claims of the industry that online piracy is at a substantial level in India. The Internet usage related data in India also support the findings from the empirical survey. However, the paper observes that pirated Indian movie content is abundant in the Internet and this shows the existence of strong demand for that content. Based on a careful analysis of different websites hosting pirated Indian movies, the paper illustrates that the most probable consumers of those pirated movies are the millions of (potential) consumers residing abroad. The paper argues that the enactment of DRM provisions under Indian copyright law or wide sweeping John Doe orders may never be a solution for such piracy. Piracy of Indian movie content abroad is primarily attributable to the failure of the Indian film industry to explore innovative business models to reach (potential) consumers abroad. The paper argues that the Indian film industry may achieve sustainable solutions for online piracy only by making the legitimate products reach those consumers.

In the same article, the author has also, mention the effectiveness of the legal measures and the diversified sustainable solutions for the burning issue of film piracy which is mentioned as below.


As mentioned earlier, the film industry has always been a powerful lobbying group in the legislative process in India, both at the national and the state levels. While the Constitution of India has vested the legislative competence on copyright related matters with the Parliament of India, different regional film industries in India have been successful in forcing many state legislatures to legislate on the subject of copyright through indirect paths. Several anti-piracy legislation at the state level, including those allowing for preventive detention of suspected infringers, illustrate the lobbying power of different regional film industries at the state level in this regard. But the new DRM provisions show the power of the film industry at the national level.

The Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012 added two DRM Provisions. The first provision deals with protection against circumvention of technological measures. According to this provision, if any person circumvents an effective technological measure used for the purpose of protecting any of the rights conferred under the Copyright Act, with the intention of infringing such rights, he or she shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend up to two years and will also be subjected to a monetary fine. The second provision deals with protection of rights management information and according to this provision, if any person knowingly removes or alters any rights management information without authority, he or she shall be fined and imprisoned for up to two years. Similar punishments are also prescribed for persons who distribute, import for distribution, broadcast or communicate to the public, copies of any work or performance without authority, knowing that the rights management information has been removed or altered without authority. The new provisions also specifically mention that the criminal remedies provided are in addition to the civil remedies already provided under copyright law for the copyright owners in such works.

As evident from the debates on these provisions in the Parliament as well as the statement of objects and reasons in the Bill introduced in the Parliament, the primary objective of the new provisions were combating digital piracy and facilitating Indias membership in the WIPO Copyright

While it is a fact that there is widespread availability of pirated Indian media products online, neither the new DRM provisions enacted by the Parliament nor the John Doe orders from the Indian judiciary are solutions to such piracy. One may take into consideration two important aspects in this regard. First, as discussed in the previous section, if the primary consumers and hosts of online pirated Indian movies are mostly abroad, enactment of DRM provisions under the Indian copyright law will never be a solution to such piracy, considering the territorial limitations of copyright law. The same territorial limitations of copyright law also limit the reach of John Doe orders to Internet Service Providers within India. Second and more importantly, piracy of Indian movies products abroad is primarily attributable to the failure of the Indian film industry to serve those markets with legitimate products. For example, as illustrated in the preceding section, the number of cinemas in which Indian movies are released abroad are far less when compared to the number of (potential) consumers living abroad and the number of movies produced in the Indian film industry. More importantly, the Indian film industry is also failing to use the opportunities provided by the new digital technologies to deliver contents securely, quickly and directly to their (potential) consumers abroad. As long as the industry fails to provide those consumers with legitimate access options, one should expect more pirates to enter this lucrative, yet neglected, market.


It is hard to substantiate the monetary loss caused by online piracy of Indian media content abroad, as the industry is currently serving this market only in a very limited way. Since hardly any sales displacements are happening, it is hard to agree with the views of the industry that Internet piracy is causing substantial loss to the Indian film industry. But merely because Internet piracy within India is currently not that substantial, does it necessarily mean that online piracy cannot be a threat for the Indian film industry? With more affordable and better broadband Internet connections,online piracy within India may increase substantially and more people may migrate to online piracy channels. The data from the empirical survey with regard to substantially high online piracy exposure among those who use Internet to watch movies points towards this future challenge. The percentage of respondents with exposure to streaming of pirated movies among the respondents who use internet to watch movies is found to be as high as 66.37% and the percentage of respondents with exposure to downloading is as high as 57.01%. It is only because the percentages of respondents who use to watch movies on Internet is found to be very low, the net percentages of respondents who have streamed or downloaded pirated movies online is found to be substantially low.67 With affordable and better Internet connections, online piracy within India may also go up considerably. It would be in the long term interests of the industry to address the issue of online piracy and reduce the supply of pirated products before more consumers get acquainted with online pirated products.

Moreover, it is also important for the industry to recognize that by reaching the consumers abroad with legitimate product access options, they could substantially increase their revenues and thereby also increase the investments in quality and diversity of movies. The most important measure to be taken in this regard is decreasing the waiting period for providing legitimate access of movies to consumers abroad. As the information flows on the new movie releases were slow in the pre-digital era, the film industry could have earlier expected the consumers abroad to wait patiently for several months to watch a new movie. But the information revolution in the interconnected world has drastically reduced the information gaps about new movies. Today most consumers would prefer to watch a movie as soon as it is released domestically. The new digital technologies provide enormous scope for safe and fast transmission of movies to consumers across the world in different modes. For example, with the help of opportunities offered by the digital transmission technologies, the industry can increase the number of movies released in cinemas abroad. Similarly, IP location tracking tools enable the industry to release movies online, simultaneously with their domestic theatrical release or immediately afterwards, exclusively for consumers abroad. Such experiments would be particularly useful for movies from smaller regional film industries in India.

On the other hand, one can see highly appreciable efficiency in the organizing of contents in pirated movie platforms. Alphabetical/ year wise cataloguing of huge collection of movies from different regional film industries within India is one good example in this regard. In many cases one could also see their efforts for converting old analogue movies to digital formats. There are two important lessons in this regard. First, producers from different regional film industries within India could join hands and start new databases offering similar experiences for consumers within and outside India. Second, they could also try to negotiate with infringers for building revenue-sharing business models and convert the infringing platforms to legitimate access platforms. While such efforts would have many positive externalities for the society in general, including provision of alternate legitimate income for infringers, it could also save considerable money for the producers. This includes avoiding the costs involved in hosting movies online and avoiding the re-conversion of analogue prints to digital formats. In other words, instead of adopting the sole strategy of taking down the infringing online platforms legally or technologically, the industry may benefit more by adopting a strategy for collaboration. Any approach that merely focuses on taking down pirated media platforms, without providing consumers alternate legitimate channels, will only be opening roads for new infringing platforms to fill the vacuum.

Finally, the Indian film industry should also show willingness to follow the changing consumer preferences and try to adapt their business models to those changes. At present the industry is only pressurizing consumers to follow their age old business models through technological and legal protection measures. For example, many consumers today wish to watch new movies in the privacy and convenience of their portable digital devices or home. By not providing them the means to access movies in their preferred forms of consumption and by forcing them to watch movies only through conventional channels like cinemas and DVDs, the Indian film industry is trying to resist innovations in business practices. An interesting example to be noted in this regard is the huge resistance shown by cinema owners against the attempt of one of the most famous movie actor/ producer, Kamal Hassan, to release his latest movie Viswaroopam in DTH platforms. The cinema owners threatened to boycott the screening ofthe movie in cinemas and the producer had to finally postpone the Direct-to-Home (DTH) release of the movie.70 He has approached the Competition Commission of India against the action taken by the cinema owners.71 But the most surprising part was the lack of open support from other producers within the industry for the novel attempt taken by this producer to experiment new mediums in view of the changing consumer preferences. If the industry fails to see the wider issue of changing consumption patterns, it may never be able to increase its revenues beyond theatrical revenues. The need of the time is innovative business practices that can meet the changing consumer expectations.

Once a film is almost a month old, the films CD is available in the market with its poster, but for new releases like Zero and Simba, you will get a blank CD with no cover. And although the police dont do raids, we still have to be careful, thats why we have makeshift shops

A vendor at Kotla Mubarakpur

A number of websites where pirated films are available are blocked. And if you are lucky to finally find them, then a movie will be downloaded in 7-10 hours and most of the films are not available in HD format. But these CDs have a great print

Jimmy, college student

Film Piracy and copyright infringement: Cabinet approves the amendment to cinematograph act 1952…penal provision for unauthorized camcording and duplication of films…violators to face 3 years jail term or fine of Rs 10 lakh or both…Producers Guild of India Applauds Government

Taran Adarsh, a renowned film critic and trade analyst

The role of CSR in curbing Film Industry:

CSR act empowers the film producing companies above the limit of profit 5 crore per year and similar provision as specified in section 135 of the companies act 2013 which makes many of the film producing companies eligible for CSR spending.

These eligible CSR qualifying companies can invest in their financial resources under CSR and their organizational power to find out the causes of piracy and implement appropriate solutions as it is already known film piracy happens due to absence of alternative channels for film viewing after its release, more so by Indian nationals in foreign countries. Therefore the possible solutions may include the following:

  • Giving access to potential consumers of films in any part of the world by adopting appropriate technologies
  • Creating massive awareness among potential consumers to connect with the new channels created by the film industry and avoid illegal methods to consume film contents

Hence, a responsible film industry have to exhibit its responsibilities by reaching out to its potential consumers through advancement of technologies in supplying and distributing films all over the world and engage with potential consumers to avoid consuming film contents illegally.

The Industry could lobby with the Government of India for making the legal provisions stringent to discourage illegal consumption of film content.

References: Scaria, Arul. (2013). Online Piracy of Indian Movies: Is the Film Industry Firing at the Wrong Target?. SSRN Electronic Journal. 10.2139/ssrn.2175621.

About the author

CSR VISION is India's (probably World's) first monthly magazine in print devoted to CSR and Sustainable Development for bringing together all stakeholders of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT at a global and local levels and act as a platform for promoting strategic CSR and sustainable development practices through dissemination of information and knowledge.