How Video Piracy killed the economy of the Film industry?
Video piracy, in simple terms, means illegal copying of copyrighted new release film and then sold at significantly lower prices in the ‘grey’ market. And what is a ‘grey market’? Well, it is a market where the copied film is passed to public viewing through ‘unauthorized’ and illegal channels! In short, Video piracy is a direct theft of films produced painstakingly by producers pumping enormous money!
Lambasting the Video piracy, eminent filmmaker, late Raj Kapoor had referred Video piracy as a Monster! Annoyed by the attack of illegal Video piracy, Raj Kapoor said, “Video piracy is a ‘Monster’, and the Monster is killing the film business across the world. The film fraternity across the globe must unite and must fight against the ‘Monster’!
The Indian film industry was attacked by Video piracy in the early ’80s when Television, became a household feature in India. The craze of color TV to watch Asian Games brought down the price of Black and White TV. It was during this period suddenly there was a boom of TV in India. The rates of Black and White TV sets came down so drastically that even the labor class people bought the TV sets, and television became the cheapest form of entertainment for the common man. According to reports, by 1989, one-third population in urban cities of India had a TV. It was a significant penetration of TV in urban India.
A new technology invaded India called Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) to bank upon the enormous population. VCR is an electronic device that records audio/ video on magnetic Video Cassette tapes. These Video Cassette tapes record new release films and distribute them in the grey market. With the easy availability of Video Cassette, soon Video Libraries and Video parlor started mushrooming in the country. These video parlors showed the latest pirated prints of Bollywood movies at cheaper rates. In the ’80s, the cinema tickets in single-screen theatres in the suburbs, ranged between minimum Rs 25/- or 40/- while the video parlors showed new films for just Rs 5/- or Rs 10/-
However, with police raiding the video parlors, video piracy adopted a new style of business. Video Libraries started the business of renting VCR and Videocassette to citizens on an hourly basis. Citizens paid a small amount ranging between Rs 50/- to Rs 100/- and hired the VCR at their homes and watched movies full night! By 1989, around 30,000 videocassette libraries came up in India, everybody sold pirated latest films. A single VCR, connected to a TV set, catered to several viewers per screening, it was a lucrative business. Hence it opened many unauthorized video parlors, set up in dingy slums and interiors of the cities to avoid the police net.
By 1992 video parlors were widespread even in the rural areas of the country, thus eating a large chunk of the film producers’ business. Though the Motion Picture Producers Association of India had been fighting tooth and nail to stop video piracy, piracy continues to bleed the Indian film economy to as much as to $2.8 billion annually!
With growing technology, Video Piracy has become less tricky, as video piracy thieves steal the content during the post-production stages of the film. The film is copied in the pen drive and distributed across the world instantaneously!! Further, the threat from the internet website is also a hanging sword on the producers’ heads. To rub salt on the injury of film producers’, the OTT has boosted video piracy to 62% in India!
The film producers are in a fix but continue the business as Bollywood believes in the policy –The Show Must Go On!