When I watched Dabangg last weekend, the first thing which caught my attention was a new category of opening credit – “Online Anti Piracy Partner”. Oh yes I do notice the opening credits and brand mentions :), blame it on my previous job which was actually into entertainment industry and as a part of my role I also used to look after brand alliances there. So coming down to this online anti piracy partner, I’ve been observing the increased usage of this term with every movie now and so when I saw a brand mentioned in the opening credit for this, it looked like a positive change. Indeed great to realize that Bollywood is now taking smarter technological routes to deal with piracy and there are branding efforts to give due credits to the partners who are supporting the industry in this cause.
But then I read this article today about Dabangg’s piracy, so Dabangg not only broke records in terms of BO collection in its opening two days, it also broke records of pirated distribution in the first two days. Within 15 hours of its release in India, over 50 websites were showing the entire movie of Dabangg. In 24 hours the numbers were over 200. Within 72 hours of the movie release, over 150,000 downloads were done in high-conservative assessment. In terms of dollar value at a 10 dollars ticket price, it is 1.5 million dollars (US) in the first 72 hours that has been lost. In Indian Rupees it comes to approximately – 6.8 Crores, an amount that could easily finance a couple of movies. With figures like this, it actually becomes the largest value of piracy in the first three days of a Hindi movie’s release. Those were the details of just online downloads, how about pirated DVDs? Even DNA reported availability of pirated DVDs of this movie within first two days at all prominent markets in just Rs. 50. In Bangalore, in fact the pirated copies are available for as low as Rs. 30.
Well, seems like regardless of all the marketing initiatives and consumer awareness programs to educate people about piracy, the problem remains as grave as earlier. In fact with digital distribution and increased internet usage by consumers in India, the access to online pirated content is getting easier by the day. At one hand internet is a boon to this industry when it comes to movie marketing or celebrity PR but on the other it’s a bane as well when it comes to illegitimate distribution of the content. Despite embracing technology and adopting software solutions to combat the piracy, till now nothing seems to be working for Bollywood to deal with this issue. Wondering what could be the bigger reason for this – lack of strong legal policies against piracy of content in India, strict bodies to enforce the existing laws, no strict action against the caught cyber criminals or the general attitude of ‘why pay when it’s available for free‘ of Indian consumers who are ok to compromise with quality if something is available for free?