Would You Download A Car?
In a landmark move set to highlight India’s strong reservations against piracy. the Ministry for Information & Broadcasting has issued directions to all multiplex owners that an anti-piracy clip must be shown to audiences before every movie begins.
Involvement of FICCI
The move came after a request was made by FICCI after discussions at a conference in Mumbai on 17th October. This issue was allegedly raised by Yash Raj Chopra. It is believed that FICCI will provide two short-clips (of 30 seconds and 60 seconds duration) free of cost to the multiplexes.
Is the direction mandatory?
Going by the language contained in the notice circulated by the Ministry of I&B (also served to the Multiplex Association of India, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association, among others) it appears that multiplexes owners have been merely requested to screen such clips. This is the case given a literal interpretation of the notice, which states that the clip ‘may be screened’ . I reproduce the relevant para below: “As stipulated in the provisions of Section 12 (4) of the Cinematograph Act 1952, you are directed that the anti piracy video clips, as provided by FICCI, may be screened before exhibiting a movie each time. Your cooperation in this regard would be appreciated.”
At the same time, Section 12(4) of the Cinematograph Act 1952, under which this notice was issued, explicitly states that the government may issue additional directions and that such ‘directions shall be deemed to be additional conditions and restrictions subject to which the licence has been granted.’ Thus, non-compliance with these directions may have adverse consequences for theater owners. .
Content of the anti-piracy clip: My concerns
While the initiative is understandable, it will not be surprising if the anti-piracy clip is poorly received by audiences, especially if it is does not convey the message appropriately. Today’s youth have grown up in a culture of file-sharing and other convenient methods of digital distribution. The directors of the clip should be careful to understand where their audiences are coming from. As an example, one may reference anti-piracy clip released by the MPAA, forcefully inserted in the form of a notice at the beginning of every Hollywood film on DVD (you can view the clip here). Keep in mind that the clip was unskippable and contained the following text:
“You wouldn’t steal a car,
You wouldn’t steal a handbag,
You wouldn’t steal a television,
You wouldn’t steal a movie,
Downloading pirated films is stealing, stealing is against the law,
PIRACY. IT’S A CRIME”
The public reaction to the clip was amusing, to say the least. Here is one of many memes mocking the MPAA clip:
If one were to philosophise the very nature of intellectual property, in the context of modern digital technologies, coupled with the ease of duplication and convenience of the Internet in sharing things we love with people we love, one really begins to wonder: Is ‘copyright infringement’ the same as theft? This is one way of looking at it, but it is certainly not the only way. While the ‘rebellious’ youth continue to ridicule the equation of theft and the unauthorised sharing of a movie, it may be wise for the Ministry of I&B along with FICCI India to just focus on the movies and leave them kids alone.
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