Get Adobe Flash player

Daily Archives: April 27, 2008

Bollywood piracy fighters take battle to US Congress

by P. Parameswaran*
Campaigners against piracy in India's money-spinning entertainment industry, which loses four billion dollars a year to counterfeiters, have taken their battle to the US Congress.
"We are losing 90 percent of our home video market in the United States," veteran Indian filmmaker Bobby Bedi told AFP at a Capitol Hill event where he and others Monday highlighted the seriousness of piracy in developing nations.
Bedi lamented that American enforcement agencies were not forceful enough in helping plug losses suffered by the Indian entertainment industry in the United States, where he said counterfeit Indian movies were being peddled mostly by mini retail stores.
"We feel that we should get the same treatment as American producers should get as far as intellectual property is concerned," he said at the event, held in conjunction with World Intellectual Property Day to be marked on Saturday.
A recent study prepared for the US Indian Business Council by global accounting firm Ernst and Young showed that India's burgeoning entertainment industry lost as much as four billion dollars and 800,000 direct jobs each year due to counterfeiting and piracy.
The study was commissioned as part of a joint initiative by the council and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, as well as a combined drive by Hollywood and Bollywood to promote "convergence" between the entertainment industries, officials said.
A key problem facing Bollywood, the informal term popularly used for Mumbai-based Hindi-language film industry in India, is copyright infringement through the illegal sale of VCD, DVD and videotape movie copies as well as online piracy.
Bedi said the Indian home video market in the United States made up 15 percent or about two billion dollars of India's entertainment industry valued at 13 billion dollars, "which is really huge."
"We are losing maybe half of that — one billion dollars per year — through piracy and related activities in the United States," said Bedi.
He is currently producing India's most expensive movie venture ever — a three-film series of the Indian legend, the Mahabharata, at an estimated cost of 70 million dollars.
Movies from India are the top-grossing foreign film category in the United States. In addition, Hindi film distributors are aggressively marketing their movies in the US digital-cable services, industry reports say.
Democratic lawmaker Diane Watson, who hails from California where Hollywood is based, was sympathetic to the plight of the piracy-plagued Indian filmmakers.
"On World Intellectual Property Day we recognize the talent of creators around the globe who enrich our lives with their artistry and innovation," said Watson, who chairs the US Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus.
Another Democratic lawmaker, Robert Wexler, and Republican legislator Tom Feeney, both of whom chair a congressional body on intellectual property and piracy prevention, called for greater efforts to combat piracy.
Movie piracy causes a total output loss for US industries of 20.5 billion dollars per year and accounts for more than 800 million dollars in lost tax revenue, according to a recent study.
Michael Ryan, director of the Washington-based George Washington University's creative and innovative economy center, said piracy was creating a dilemma for filmmakers and curtailed their imagination.
"So long as pirates earn a high share of movie revenues, producers must focus on making relatively inexpensive movies," he said.


Tennis: Mauresmo leads France to 2-0 lead over Japan

Former world number one Amelie Mauresmo got France off to a flying start as they took a 2-0 lead over Japan in the Fed Cup play-off tie for the World Group yesterday.
The 2006 Wimbledon and Australian Open champion needed just 58 minutes to beat up-and-coming Ayumi Morita 6-0, 6-2, and Virginie Razzano made it two up by beating former world doubles number one Ai Sugiyama 6-1, 7-5.
"I played a good match," said Mauresmo. "She (Morita) was probably a little bit tight, playing this first match today, opening this tie at home for her.
"I just felt comfortable out there and I'm happy to take France to have the first point and lead 1-0."
Mauresmo took the first nine games and when Morita finally found her rhythm, it was already too late to come back into the match as the Frenchwoman stood firm on serve.
"I was expecting her to really try to play with a lot of speed, picking the ball up pretty early and moving me around," said Mauresmo.
"I just tried to take every opportunity that I would have and not make too many unforced errors, which I was able to do. I also try to play good in my service games. On this very fast surface, it's important," she added.
Morita, 18, admitted she was tense at the start because it was the first time she had played an opening match in the Fed Cup.
"Amelie combined some fast balls with slow ones by hitting slices and then suddenly hit hard for a winner," said Morita.
"I was tight and I often mis-hit my strokes, which always didn't get past the net or went long. I couldn't control anything at all."
In the second match, Razzano, who shocked Wimbledon champion Venus Williams to win the Japan Open in October on the same centre court here, had to calm herself down after taking the first set and gaining a 4-1 lead in the second.
The Frenchwoman's opponent Sugiyama reeled off four straight games to take a 5-4 lead.
But after saving one set point in the 10th game, Razzano won that game and took two more, although missing three match points before finally beating Sugiyama in an 88-minute battle.
"After 4-1 for me, I knew I was close to finishing the match, but I was a little bit tired and she started to play better, she was more aggressive and I wasn't," said Razzano.
"I knew if I want to win the set, I must be aggressive as I was in the first set and a half and I came back and played my game. It was good for me," she added.
French team captain Georges Goven added: "The end of the match was very close, but Virginie was able to take her chance."

Ai Sugiyama vs Amelie Mauresmo
Ayumi Morita vs Virginie Razzano
Ai Sugiyama/Ayumi Morita vs Amelie Mauresmo/Virginie Razzano