At a time when the film industry is still scrambling to come to terms with piracy, a newer, more lethal problem has surfaced: live-streaming on Facebook’s new tool, Facebook Live. Facebook Live was available to Indian users in April this year.
Last weekend, two Tamil releases Kodi and Kaashmoraa were live-streamed on social media via Facebook’s latest tool, Facebook Live. By October 28, some Facebook were live-streaming parts of the films with the same tool. The videos went viral on the day of the films’ release itself, causing an uproar among producers and distributors, who described it as a disaster.
Speaking to Silverscreen, distributor Tirupur Subramaniam was at a loss for words when told about the videos. According to him, such a development threatened the survival of the film industry itself, “It took a lot of time, years and money for the film industry to get involved in the fight against piracy. With all these technology improvements, there are just newer tools and such out there to attack the film industry. Unless and until we figure out how to tackle this as a unit, we will not survive.”
In an interview with the Times Of India, Kaashmora producer SR Prabhu echoed the same anguish. He said the current generation of film-goers lacked “basic ethics” and lamented the lack of anti-piracy laws in India that he feels leave the producers helpless:
“We can’t do anything about this. I got upset when I came to know that my film is being streamed live. It is only the government that can and must take legal action against such miscreants. Even if we do find out who the culprits are, and file a case against them, they will be out on bail easily, as there are no strong laws against piracy in India. This generation lacks the basic ethics, and has zero knowledge about copyright laws. Isn’t it a fact that most of us learn how to operate a software for the first time mostly with its pirated version? How many of us opt to buy original software?”
Further, he said that everyone was to blame and that it was in everyone’s interests to resolve it, as a continuation would “severely” affect the film industry:
“It is also true that there’s a lot of angst against the film industry among the youngsters, as they feel we make money easily — and I think that is what makes them act thus. Also, we can’t just blame the theatre owners alone — everyone must take the responsibility. Stopping piracy is in everyone’s interests — it is a huge issue, and must be fought on a large scale. Until then, we as producers, can just sit and cry. All I know is that if this continues, I am sure the industry will suffer severely.”
Qube’s Senthil Kumar told Silverscreen that from the film industry’s side, they can, at best, figure out the location of the culprits through watermarks. Every print of the movie is embedded with a unique invisible watermark, which shows up when filmed on a camera. Senthil says that with a high quality clip, the watermark can be traced to the source. “But,” he said, “that’s all we can do. We can pinpoint the location from where it was done. As the fault is with the movie goer, we can not do anything about it.”
Already, complaints have been filed against the people behind the live streaming for copyright violation. But, Tirupur Subramaniam isn’t sure that an arrest will be made, “Nothing can be done to repair the damage this incident has caused. We should clamp down hard on such incidents so that nobody feels the urge to repeat it.”
According to reports, the Nadigar Sangam and the Producer’s Council have been asked to step in to find a solution.