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Tamil film industry to sink its own ship to starve pirates


The Tamil Film Industry has come up with an ingenious way to stop pirates: sink its own ships. In response to widespread piracy of Tamil films, the industry plans to stop releasing movies in the first place. The ban, which displays a complete lack of understanding of how or why piracy works, will likely be effective for three months once implemented.

According to this Gulte report, the majority members of the Tamil film industry gave a green signal to execute this measure at the ‘General body meeting of producers Council’. However, the industry says that the ‘financial calculations and discussions’ with concerned departments and businesses is currently going on and the final call is yet to be taken.

Why it won’t work: First and foremost, there is no reason why pirates can’t pirate the movies whenever the movie is released. It is highly unlikely for a ‘pirate’ to be completely dependent on newly released Tamil movies for his or her livelihood. The only way this course of action even makes sense if it is targeted at theatre owners, to encourage them to take up anti-piracy measures.

Even so, there is only so much theatres can do to stop video recordings. Almost everyone carries a recording device (smartphone) these days, and movies typically go through thousands of screenings before being pulled from theatres. However it only takes one recording to successfully pirate a video.

The ban also fails to address the root causes of piracy – lack of access to content and the price of the content. Lack of access to content is obvious, consumers who are unable to access the content via legal means will resort to illegal means if desperate. For example, NRIs downloading the movie because it isn’t released where they live, or people with no time to go to theatres in the day. The solution to this is to make content more accessible on different platforms at the same time as theatrical releases, not making it more inaccessible.

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The second issue with piracy is the price. There are two kinds of consumers in this category: those who don’t think that the content is worth the asking price, and those who don’t or can’t pay. Reasonably pricing content is the obvious solution for the first kind of customer. Consumers who can’t pay on the other hand, are actually not customers at all. Without piracy, they wouldn’t watch the film due to inaffordability. Piracy, in fact, helps producers here as the film reaches people who normally wouldn’t be able to view it, and provides free word-of-mouth advertising.

Still some hope: The same report mentions that another (sensible) group from the same industry is objecting to this proposal as banning movies will “make the things worse for the dependent people and their survival itself will remain a big issue”. True. Producers, directors and other associated members of the film industry actually rely on these releases for their income, unlike pirates. The move will exacerbate the losses faced by the Tamil industry while hardly making any difference to the pirates who would have moved on to taping some Hindi movies in the meantime.

Piracy in India:

– The US Congress has named India in the list of countries in “2014 International Piracy Watch List“ in June last year. The list was made by the International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus that is chaired by Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Adam Schiff, and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch.

– In November last year, the litigation by the Indian music industry got 104 music sites blocked which appears to have helped the Indian music industry. Sridhar Subramanium, President, India and Middle East, Sony Music India had said then that in India, most piracy is now from web streaming, because downloads were blocked via litigation.

– Measure have been taken in India to reduce piracy in the past (nothing this ridiculous though). For example, Bangalore-based ACT broadband had blocked torrent websites, a teenager was arrested for pirating a movie last year and many image hosting sites were blocked in 2013, along with several filesharing websites.

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– In June last year, a group of people from Hyderabad were arrested for live streaming satellite TV content through the Jadoo TV platform, although the company denied any wrongdoings in August.

Image source: Flickr user Kristina Alexanderson

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