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Shemaroo To Digitize Govt Of Maharashtra Films; On Copyright In Govt Content


Shemaroo Studio has won a contract to digitize and restore content created by or for the Government of Maharashtra. The company will restore around 4000 minutes of content, including several short stories and documentaries from Negative/Print.

Shemaroo had set up a Digital Post Production Studio in 2001, and claims to have restored over 450 films till date, and has worked with several studios to restore films, including those from Yash Raj Films and Vinod Chopra Productions, Kumar Gaurav among others. Some films restored by the company include Mohabbatein, Veer Zaara, Anand, Chupke Chupke, Kaajal, Mahaan, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Deewaar among others.

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Other than restoration, Shemaroo says it also does Digital Scanning and Archiving, Digital Intermediate, Visual Effects, SD/HD all conversions, Satellite transfers, SD/HD Audio post production, IPTV/Mobile conversions, Blu Ray/DVD/VCD Authoring etc.

To be honest, we haven’t heard of many significant digital restoration deals. Reliance Mediaworks, formerly AdLabs, also has a digital restoration unit; its US subsidiary, Lowry Digital was doing some restoration work back in 2010, and in 2009, had bagged an order for restoring content from the National Film Archive of India. We’ll try and get an update on this.

Copyright & Government Funded Content

The government might be funding the restoration of content, but frankly, we don’t think it should be under copyright. In our submission to the government at the time the copyright act was being finalized, we had said that we want the introduction of creative commons and for content (and software) created with funding from the Government to be treated as the intellectual property of the people of India, and all citizens of India should have the right to access it, having already paid for it. It should be open sourced, or made made available for further development under licences such as Creative Commons. In addition, the content should be made easily available to citizens to create derivative works from.

Digitization will help, but it remains to be seen if it will gather dust (metaphorically speaking), or released for all to share, modify, adapt, and maybe even monetize.