The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu Home Secretary and the DGP to hold meetings with people aggrieved by film piracy and find a solution to prevent it.
Justice Pushpa Satyanarayana gave this directive on a petition from the Film Exhibitors Association of Tiruchirapalli and and Thanjavur and adjourned the matter to November 28 for further hearing.
The association sought a direction to restrain police from arresting owners of cinemas, who are its members, based on complaints saying a film screened was captured on a camera unauthorisedly by cinema owners unless there was proof that these were done at their behest or in connivance with them.
Counsel for the petitioner K Ravi submitted that piracy has been a challenge to the film industry, despite measures taken to curb such illegal recordings.
Film producers were lodging false complaints against cinema owners for being responsible for piracy and the resultant losses caused to them
The police were arresting movie hall owners on the basis of such complaints without enquiry, the association alleged. It was forcing cinema owners run from pillar to post to obtain bail or anticipatory bail, when they were not responsible for the piracy, he said.
By booking movie halls and under the instructions of film producers, digital cinema service providers supply digital prints to cinemas for release and exhibition.
With this information, complaints were being arbitrarily made against the cinema owners, counsel alleged. In most cases, pirated copies were made in a cinema or auditorium by the audience who record the film being screened, he said.
Routine security checks were being done at movie halls only for weapons and firearms, the petitioner said, adding it was impossible to check or control audiences with cameras on phones, pens or spectacles with which films could be recorded.
Such copies seem to be the major contributor to the piracy market, he added.
Opposing the plea, public prosecutor A Natarajan submitted that the petitoner's prayer cannot be entertained as there cannot be a blanket order not to arrest movie hall owners.
After the judge suggested that the parties hold a meeting with all concerned and find a solution to prevent piracy, Natarajan said the state would consider the suggestion. Additional advocate-general Narmada Sampath too submitted that the petition was not at all maintainable.
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