Indian Film Industry-Copyright Infringers or Inspirations?

On July 7, 1896, India’s first cinematographic film was shown in Mumbai. Today, India’s mammoth film industry produces more movies than any other country in the world and employs over two million people. In recent years, nearly eight out of every ten Bollywood scripts have been “inspired” by one or more Hollywood films.7 Previously, this widespread problem was not visible to those outside of India. The emergence of the Internet and better global communications, however, has made Westerners more aware of the cultural copy situation in India. The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) ranks India’s amended 1957 Copyright Act as one of the most modern copyright statutes of any country. Despite its substantial domestic de jure copyright protections, India remains on the”Priority Watch List” primarily because of high piracy rates and lack of appropriate enforcement measures. Almost eight out of every ten Bollywood scripts were recently “inspired” by one or more Hollywood films. There are screenwriters who are so adept at plagiarizing that they can have a cultural copy of a Hollywood movie ready by the very same day as that film’s North American premier. In fact, many producers and directors prefer cultural copies because the stories have proven box office appeal. Despite the fact that Hollywood studios have yet to take action against the Indian film industry, it is apparent that there is a problem. A studio will likely try to enforce its copyright in the near future. The United States entertainment industry as a whole is becoming increasingly aware of possible copyright infringements and increasingly litigious as it is forced to respond to new technologies. For example, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has intensified its efforts to curb internet file sharing, a relatively new phenomenon. From the onset of its lawsuit campaign in September 2003 through mid-June 2004, RIAA sued well over 3,000 individual files wrappers for copyright infringement. As Bollywood films gain more prominence in America, movie studios are similarly bound to try to enforce their copyrights. However, Indian courts have held that a work “inspired” by another copyrighted work is not necessarily a copyright infringement. Copyright infringement hinges on whether a substantial portion of the original work has been copied; as long as the theme of the “inspired” work is treated differently from its inspiration, there is no violation. India has taken some steps to remedy the situation. Although most of the measures address the larger piracy problem, they nonetheless indicate India’s willingness to address IPR issues. India has implemented a special copyright enforcement advisory council with a judiciary commissioner who is charged with developing and coordinating IPR policy. Since India is trying to be a bigger player in the global market place, trade sanctions are likely to have the greatest effect. Additionally, sanctions have succeeded in the past. Leading Bollywood studios such as Reliance Big Entertainment, Yash Raj Films,

UTV Motion Pictures, Eros International and Studio 18 have joined hands here Thursday with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to set up an anti-piracy coalition.Cultural contexts are a part of international cinema” but the right way to do it is to obtain the proper license Clearly there is a problem with cultural copies in India. Remaking and borrowing ideas from other countries is nothing new And is not altogether a bad Phenomenon, so long as proper authorization is obtained From the right holder. Rich Taylor, the Vice President of Public Affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America, concedes, “Borrowing ideas, scripts and remaking them in different cultural contexts are a part of international cinema” but the right way to do it is to obtain the proper license