Govt’s anti-piracy push under scrutiny

NEW DELHI : The government’s move to assign nodal officers to tackle film piracy is well-intentioned, but experts have expressed doubts, expecting a gradual impact amid operational challenges.

The initiative addresses theatrical piracy, but raises concerns as it excludes OTT content and premium live broadcasting, offering limited relief to broadcasters and streaming platforms.

A film studio legal head, requesting anonymity, questioned the practicality of the move. “On paper, the initiative offers entertainment businesses a glimmer of hope for action against piracy within 48 hours. But as with any new process, the people involved may not immediately understand what needs to be done, and some operational challenges will need to be resolved.”

According to experts, ambiguity regarding follow-up and handling of material sourced from external sources could cause concern for production houses. The potential financial burden on production houses is a matter of concern as they may have to shift from hiring private anti-piracy agencies to dealing with nodal officers.

Vinay Butani, partner at Economic Laws Practice, said that removal of matters within the mandated 48 hours could be an issue due to the large number of complaints, and the limited number of nodal officers. “This could be made worse by a lack of control over the content on streaming platforms,” ​​he said.

“The same level of control does not extend to content on streaming platforms, which could encourage piracy, as users can freely distribute this content on the internet without legal consequences.”

The task is indeed specialized, and India’s law enforcement agencies have ample resources, but it is essential to sensitize and train existing personnel to handle complaints quickly and urgently, said Gaurav Sahay, partner, SNG & Partners , Advocates & Solicitors.

The focus on films approved by the Central Board of Film Certification is a challenge for broadcasters fighting unauthorized broadcasts of high-profile live events or sports competitions by local cable operators, a senior broadcast network executive said. “At ground level, there is no coordination with officers who move on from their roles or don’t have the time or expertise to act.”

It is a positive step to protect the interests of copyright and content creators, but there are no practical challenges, said Meghna Mishra, partner, Karanjawala & Co. “Piracy involves sites hosted in different countries, which requires international cooperation. Nodal officers may need technological expertise to collaborate with forensics, cyber security and IP legal experts to track pirates effectively.”

The complex jurisdiction-dependent legal framework for combating piracy adds another layer of complexity, requiring these officials to be familiar with copyright laws and legal procedures. To prevent possible abuse, nodal officers must also set up mechanisms to screen and screen false or malicious complaints, Mishra said.

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Updated: 14 November 2023, 10:21 PM IST

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