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Hollywood piracy bait

Mumbai, March 12: Scared that India may turn out to be a leading exporter of pirated Hollywood DVDs, an association of seven major Hollywood studios today launched an anti-piracy drive here.

Hollywood loses $ 3.5 billion worldwide every year due to piracy. In the Asia-Pacific, it loses $ 642 million and, in India alone, it is left poorer by $ 75 million.

DVDs, the Motion Picture Association feels, are the most effective weapons in the hands of the pirates. To curb the menace, the association comprising Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Vivendi Universal and Warner Bros launched an award, the DVD Rewards Campaign.

The association’s news conference was attended by Vivek Oberoi and Smita Thackeray, head of Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association.

“DVDs are the emerging problem in piracy,” said Michael C. Ellis, vice-president and regional director, Asia-Pacific Anti-Piracy Operations. “In India, the number of seized DVDs show a 3,000 per cent increase in 2002,” he said. About 87 per cent of worldwide seizures of DVDs in 2002 were from the Asia-Pacific.

The rewards programme — which has a corpus of $ 150,000 for Asia and has been launched already in Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines — would financially award individuals who provided information leading directly to successful raids of factories or plants manufacturing pirated DVDs.

The Hollywood studios are afraid that India may become a giant exporter of pirated DVDs, following Pakistan, which has already emerged so.

“About 14 per cent of seized DVDs in the UK came from Pakistan in 2002,” said Ellis. “Six out of 10 Hollywood films don’t make it at the box office. A lot of it is due to piracy,” he said.

Technology makes DVDs a popular choice for film pirates, the association says.

“Place two moulded discs of less than 12 cm diameter together, punch holes in them, give them a reflective aluminium layer and a lacquer coating and you have the DVD, a format capable of including over two hours of audio-visual software worth crores of rupees,” said Chander M. Lall, the association’s legal counsel in India.

DVD copies are generally high quality. The 100th copy can look as good as the original. They also allow easy copying into other mediums as computer hard discs. They are easy to manufacture and distribute.

There are 15 optical disc factories in India, some of which the association has raided, but there is no legislation regarding misuse of the technology. “We have met the human resources development ministry for such legislation,” said Lall. In India, along with DVDs, VCD and cable piracy are also rampant.

While Hollywood loses its millions here, Bollywood loses about Rs 1,700 crore in India alone through piracy, said Lall. In its overseas market, an Indian film often loses 30 per cent of its revenue because of piracy, a trade analyst said.

Overall, the piracy level in Hollywood films is estimated to be 60 per cent in India. Some Asian countries have more scary figures to offer Hollywood. Vietnam shows a piracy level of 100 per cent and Pakistan of 95 per cent. In China, Hollywood is estimated to have made a loss of $ 168 million and in Japan, of $ 110 million.

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