CineAsia: India, China the Problem Areas in Camcorder Piracy Cases

Anti-Piracy DVD Pile - H 2011
Ramzi Haidar/AFP/Getty Images

Anti-Piracy DVD Pile - H 2011

40 reported cases in India, 21 in China in 2014

India and China remains the problem areas for camcorder piracy in the Asia Pacific region, while the Philippines has seen a dramatic rise in camcording cases in 2013 and 2014, according to Frank S. Rittman, Senior Vice President, Deputy Managing Director & Regional Policy Officer, Asia Pacific, Motion Pictures Association.

Speaking at a seminar titled "Promoting and Protecting Content in Today’s Multi-screen World" at CineAsia 2014, Rittman revealed that there has been a reduction of camcorder piracy in the Asia Pacific region by 16% over the last year.

But the situation in India remains a serious concern, with 40 cases of camcorder piracy reported in 2014, down from 44 cases in 2013. "There has always been significant demand for local audio captures, such as Hindu or Tamil, but what we really saw here in 2012 was a spike in video recordings that were being distributed particularly internationally," said Rittman. "The problem impacts box office revenues globally."

However, there has been significant arrests made of members belonging to a major criminal camcorder piracy syndicate based in Indore in 2013, known as operation Yamraaj and NickkkDoN.

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In China, camcorder piracy also continues to be a problem, with 21 reported cases in 2014, down from 29 cases in 2013. "From 2011 through 2013, we saw a significant growth in the forensic matches from Chinese theaters along with evidence that they were being distributed internationally. What it means is that international pirates were able to take a Chinese video, attach it with an audio track of their own languages, such as Russian or Portuguese, and make a complete version that is ready for distribution in their market," Rittman said.

But fortunately, one group that has been under surveillance by the MPA was taken down this year., an illegal pirate video site, has been extremely popular throughout Chinese-speaking markets. It made its money through advertising. "What we noticed was that the camcorded videos coming out of China seems to appear on this site first, it was the first appeared site for more than 20 MPA titles. And several months after presenting evidence to the law enforcement agencies, they took action and arrested two individuals, they've been sentenced with imprisonment, heavy fines, and the site has been brought down altogether."

There has also been a disturbing trend of camcorder piracy in the Philippines, which saw the country's number of reported cases rise from 1 in 2011 to 18 in 2014. The grave problem of camcorder piracy in the Philippines is, that the pirated titles have a tendency of being distributed widely on an international scale, and they are extremely popular with the criminal syndicates. "There are a number of reasons: the cinemas are concentrated in highly urbanized areas that are easily accessible; the Philippines titles don't typically have subtitles on the screen; for the MPA titles in the past, they were released there earlier than elsewhere in the world, sometimes several days earlier than anywhere else," said Rittman.

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The number of camcorder piracy cases had dropped significantly following the enactment of legislation in 2010, only to creep back up over the last four years. But Rittman said there is an investigation ongoing in the country and was optimistic that by the same time next year there will be a decline in the number of camcorder piracy incidents in the Philippines. There was also an exhibitors conference on October 21, 2014 that had 150 attendees, the focus of which was to practically implement and enforce the procedures to be taken under the Philippine law.

"By utilizing our resources to educate consumers and policy makers about the seriousness of the harm of camcorder piracy, by creating a proper legislative infrastructure, and by maintaining our resolve, we as an industry, can continue to make a stand in support of creativity on behalf of the next generation of filmmakers," said Rittman.