Malayalam Film Industry Heaves A Sigh Of Relief

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   (2012-07-05 00:00:00)

The firm which bought the DVD and CD rights for a recent Malayalam movie reportedly sold hundreds of copies of the film on the first day of its release in digital format in the city this week.

According to Malayalam film industry sources, it is a record of sorts. The copyright owners of a previous Malayalam movie said it took more than a month to sell the same number of DVDs.

Movie pirates had apparently cut into their sales by sourcing the first copyrighted DVDs of the box-office hit to replicate it in thousands for sale in the black market.

Officers of the Anti-Piracy Cell of the State Crime Branch, headed by Superintendent of Police Rajpal Meena, say they view the robust sale of the original DVDs of the film as a step forward in their attempt to crack down on Malayalam movie piracy.

This week, using a network of informants, they seized more than 4,000 pirated copies of new Malayalam movie DVD and CD releases smuggled out of a coastal locality in the district, where illegally replicating copyrighted movies is almost a ‘cottage industry.’

The pirated DVDs are meant for sale in other districts and also metro cities where there is a considerable population of Malayalis.

An original DVD costs Rs.120 while a pirated one is retailed for less than Rs.20.

Anti-piracy cell officers point out that in the past three months not one camcorder print (shot slyly from theatres) of recent Malayalam releases had hit the black market.

From December 2011, the Malayalam movie industry had started using digital watermarking technology, which embeds hidden security features in original prints of films, to help the agency crack down on piracy of camcorder prints of latest films.

It had arrested a father-son duo from Bangalore on the charge of making camcorder prints of latest Malayalam films for sale in the black market.

The accused had also allegedly sent some of the prints to online movie pirates, a handful of Keralites settled abroad, who, investigators say, rake in lakhs of rupees in foreign exchange annually by illegally distributing pirated versions of latest Malayalam releases online.

The online pirates, owned scores of websites, which charged a subscription fee from its registered members, at least $5 a year, to view pirated versions of latest Malayalam movies.

Investigators now have the real world identity of several of the movie pirates.

One of them hails from Alappuzha and operates out of Kuwait.

The others, students and businessmen included, operate out of the U.S. and the U.K.

The cell, on Wednesday, moved the Chief Judicial Magistrate here for a warrant to arrest a native of Varkala, currently settled in London, who they suspect to head the European end of the Malayalam movie piracy operations. They say they will move the Interpol for his arrest.

The unit has written to private companies that facilitate payments and money transfers through the internet to provide details of the e-commerce accounts of website owners who profit from online Malayalam movie piracy.