September 23, 2009 / 7:26 PM / 9 years ago

Two distribution house executives held in film piracy case

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Two executives working in film distribution companies in Mumbai were arrested on Wednesday for their involvement in pirating movies, a thriving bootleg industry that sees Bollywood lose up to $400 million in revenue annually.

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra (L), director Ashutosh Gowariker (C) and actor Harman Baweja pose at the launch of the soundtrack for their upcoming movie "What's Your Raashee" in Mumbai August 18, 2009. REUTERS/Manav Manglani/Files

Police said six others had already been arrested on charges of aiding and abetting film piracy.

“We have arrested Nirav Shah who was the head of overseas distribution for Reliance Big Pictures and Kalapi Nagda, who headed overseas distribution for Shemaroo Pictures in connection with the piracy racket of ‘What’s Your Raashee,’” Rakesh Maria, chief of Mumbai’s Crime Branch, told Reuters.

Maria said prints of this week’s Bollywood releases “What’s Your Rashee” and “Fast Forward” were to be passed on to bootleggers.

“Our preliminary investigations reveal that those arrested were involved in passing on film prints to the piracy market,” he said.

Hawkers selling cheap pirated CDs and DVDs on busy Indian streets find easy patrons among many cost-conscious consumers who pay less than a dollar for a disc instead of going to a multiplex with tickets priced at about 150 rupees.

UTV Motion Pictures, which produced “What’s Your Raashee” sent a legal notice on Wednesday to Adlabs Films and UFO Movies, the two laboratories processing and digitising the film, and from where police say the film’s master print was copied.

“It is clear that you have abetted infringement of the Copyright of the Film, which is a protected work,” UTV Motion Pictures said in the legal notice.

“We will take action against those whom we have proof,” company CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur told Reuters.

An Adlabs spokesperson said the piracy case could not be used to implicate the company as a whole.

“The incident regarding ‘What’s Your Raashee’ is not attributable to us in any manner. The film prints are recorded for and under the best possible security measures,” a company spokesperson said.

Reliance Big Pictures said in a statement that “anybody found guilty of any wrongdoing as far as the law of the country is concerned, will be strictly dealt with.”

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