Piracy has once again raised its ugly head in Kannada cinema. Recently the Karnataka police arrested a mobile shop proprietor “for selling a pirated clip of the blockbuster Pailwan, starring Sudeep and Suniel Shetty. The arrest was followed by a complaint filed by the producer-director of the film, S Krishna. According to the police, “the proprietor had downloaded the clip from a website on to their pen-drives for just ₹ 10.
Before this, the cybercrime section of the Central Crime Branch arrested a 19-year-old student for uploading and sharing the link of Pailwan on Facebook.
Apart from confirming piracy continues to plague the Kannada film industry, the two incidents have sparked a cold war between two top stars of Kannada cinema — Darshan and Sudeep. Both took to twitter to express their views.
According to sources, Pailwan team is said to have collected over 10,000 pirated links and handed it to the police. “This is one of the most pirated movies in Kannada cinema in recent years,” says the director of the film.
Sources in the Kannada film industry claim that the piracy of Pailwan has led to a loss of 20 crore. The President of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, Jairaj, is also said to have met the cybercrime authorities and has urged them to take immediate steps to curb piracy and protect the interest of producers. “We have decided to form a committee of legal experts and seek suggestions from them on how to curb piracy. The legal experts team will be headed by a former judge of Karnataka High Court,” says Jairaj.
Considering the fate of recent films that were pirated including Kurukshetra starring Darshan, Nanna Prakara, Singa and Bazar, producer of the much-awaited Geetha, starring Ganesh with the Gokak agitation as its backdrop, has taken all precautionary measures.
The team has tied up with an anti-piracy company and has also hired people to keep tabs on any kind of video recording in theatres.
Filmmakers now seem to be worried about piracy more than the success or failure of their films. According to Thomas D’Souza, member of the Executive Committee Film Federation of India (FFI), the Indian entertainment industry is losing a minimum of 300 crore of its annual revenue because of piracy.
“India is among the top five countries in the world in downloading films and Kannada film industry is no exception,” says D’Souza, who was the former president of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC).
The music industry has also joined hands with the film industry to fight piracy. “We do not advertise on websites that do not respect copyright. The move is aimed at cutting revenue to such websites,” says Tulasiram Naidu, popularly known as Lahari Velu of Lahari Recording Company. This company had acquired audio rights of almost all big budget movies, including Bahubali and KGF. “The reason those involved in piracy are acting with immunity is because they have not been convicted in a single case, even though we have registered 540,” rues Velu.
A proprietor of single screen owner attributed high ticket prices in multiplexes and cheap internet connectivity as reasons for the increase in piracy.
Meanwhile, some production houses are working with cyber security firms to plug the leaks. They are spotting piracy on online through human intervention with the help of technology.
A software company, which is supporting big budget films, had over 120 executives, to tackle URLS of Pailwan, from further dissemination of content. When Kurukshetra was released, Aiplex Software Private Limited (ASPL) had spotted around 5,000 URLS in the first three days, according to an executive of ASPL.
Rockline Productions, who distributed Kurukshetra hired a software company and formed a 10-member squad that toured Karnataka and a separate team was formed to contain piracy in Bengaluru.
Popular film star and politician Jaggesh said there is another dimension to piracy — some hackers steal content because of the love for the stars to make them more popular. They record the entry of their favourite hero and other important sequences on their smart phones upload them on social media to spread the love.
Hackers might be in jubilant mood now, but the way piracy is being fought across the country, the menace would end soon, believes Karithik Gowda, producers of KGF.
The national film body has asked the government to restrict mobile phones in cinema halls to stop recording of films.
The 2019 Union Budget too had highlighted the piracy problem in creative industry. The film industry suggests anti-recording provision as a deterrent.
“A clause prohibiting unauthorised recording will contain piracy,” says Chandrashekar, a film exhibitor. “FFI wants implementation of the recent government decision to amend the Cinematography Act,” says D’Souza.