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What entertainment industry should do to fight piracy

Sonal Khetarpal     February 13, 2020

India has the biggest entertainment industry in the world, but it is also one of the top countries for pirated content. According to the findings of The Irdeto Global Consumer Piracy Threat Report, media and entertainment sector loses $2.8 billion of its annual revenue to piracy.

Earlier it was done through CDs and DVDs, now it is pervasive online through streaming websites, torrents, mobile apps and other means.

Ashok Kumar Yadav, Assistant Vice President, Star India calls piracy a menace that needs all stakeholders of the industry to come together to fight it. He added that the measures should be in four broad areas - social media where it is very easy to upload fake or pirated content, rogue websites, mobile apps for streaming pirated content, and Kodi boxes (they aren't popular in India yet). Over the years, the tools developed by social media firms have improved significantly. Star India uses YouTube's copyright tool Content ID. Yadav says that from 6-10 hours earlier, pirated content can now be removed in 15-20 minutes from social media platforms. The bigger problem though is the live feature on Facebook. "As Star, live piracy happens more on Facebook than YouTube because of the Facebook Live feature which is in real time and is difficult to control," he says.

Star India is experimenting with a technical solution and forensic watermarking to help in their fight against piracy. They also removed 900 mobile apps from Google Play Store and iOS that streamed pirated content.

While streaming has enabled piracy, it has also made a wide variety of content available to users at their fingertips. Music streaming services such as Gaana already has a user base of 200-225 people who are consuming content legitimately and it is growing fast. "We have seen that users who start using streaming platform don't go back to piracy," says Gaana CEO Prashan Agarwal.

He suggests, "To grow this market, streamline platforms are doing their fair bit, but the industry and government can pitch in to create awareness among the users." He adds that it will help the entire ecosystem.  "Streaming services can create an efficient and legitimate structure of monetisation for the music industry and also the government which will help everyone grow."

He further says that the government intervention can start by containing illegal apps on the Google Play Store itself. The move will help grow the legal market by 30-40 per cent. "If you kill the incentive to piracy, the pirated market will die on its own," says Agarwal.

Blaise Fernandes, President and CEO of Indian Music Industry suggests the example of China. From being the top pirated market, China now figures among the top 10 markets for recorded music industry. The transformation happened in just five years through its 'Sword Net Action' project. Under this project, the government, telcos, and the industry came together and introduced various measures to fight piracy. Now, 96 per cent of their market is legitimate. "We should see the leakage of revenue to piracy on the same lines of tax evasion. This mindset change will lead to faster implementation of technical solutions," says Fernandes.

The experts participated in a panel discussion on the same issue at the IAMAI's India Digital Summit in New Delhi.

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