The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy which came into effect last year has enabled the Media & Entertainment (M&E) sector players to fight the issue of piracy on a bigger scale.

While IPRs are becoming increasingly important in the global arena, there is a need to increase awareness about IPRs in India. According to industry estimates, piracy is resulting in a revenue loss of Rs 30,000 to Rs 50, 000 crore annually.

Issue of piracy

As far as addressing the piracy issue in India is concerned, the biggest challenge is posed by the online media. According to Sujeet Jain, Group General Counsel & Company Secretary, Viacom18 Media, “The entire Media & Entertainment industry is suffering huge losses due to IP infringements. For example, according to a government report, piracy in 2008 was close to Rs 2000 crore which in 2017 jumped to Rs 18000 crore. While as the legit size of the film industry in India was Rs 10,000 crore in 2017, it is around Rs 14,000 crore. So, over a period of nine years, piracy in films alone has grown by 300% while the legit part of the film industry has only grown by 40%.”

Jain also believes that there is a close nexus between internet penetration in the country and online piracy. “We have requested the government to come up with an information technology act whereby the rogue websites can be blocked. So, we want a statutory mechanism which should be under the IT act to check online piracy, which is the major contributor to piracy in the M&E sector,” stated Jain.

Need for greater enforcement of IPR laws

The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) covers the entire spectrum of the IP policy in India across sectors. By bringing in this reform, the government has made its stand clear on the issue. However, there needs to be consistency in the enforcement of the legislation across all states to make it more effective.

Speaking about the issue of piracy in the Indian broadcasting space, Jain believes that the threat is a mix of domestic and global factors. “On the TV side, there are predominantly two types of piracy—one is the online piracy where all the TV content is also available on pirated networks. This is posing a huge challenge to OTT platforms. The second is the issue related to TV content for the Indian diaspora, wherein a lot of pirated networks are distributing content from Indian broadcasters. This is resulting in huge revenue loss and we have taken up the matter with respective governments in UK and US as well as other countries though it’s very expensive to litigate in those countries.”

According to a recent report titled 'Digital inflection point: Indian media and entertainment', released at the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum in New York, the Indian M&E industry is expected to touch USD 34.8 billion, witnessing a CAGR of 11.8 per cent over 2016–21. While these figures might reveal the robust scope of the sector, in the light of rampant piracy, the scope for leveraging such potential is immensely challenging.

While explaining the business loss faced by the M&E sector owing to piracy issues, Jain says, “I believe that the total loss of revenue in the M&E sector in India is close to Rs 30,000 crore annually and this is a very conservative number that I am quoting; it could be even Rs 50,000 crore. The need of the hour is to address this issue on a war footing.”