Improvements through inaction – factoids from a lazy bum

It is my pleasure to present NK Sreedhar’s first blog post. Myself and Priya Raju have known NK Sreedhar for over 11 years now. Over the years, Sreedhar and his wife Hema have become one of our best friends. Here he takes on a tough topic wrapping it with his great sense of humor. Please be generous with your comments to encourage him. – Sukumar

“We have to fight piracy” my wife started. I was already conjuring up 5-6 excuses that I am going to give, in case it involved some work on my part. “It doesn’t involve us doing anything” she said. She must have read my mind. “In fact, it involves inaction by a whole group of people” she continued. Now, nothing gets my attention more than the sweet sound of the word ‘inaction’. My wife had me pegged correctly as the king of the ‘lazy’ kingdom, the one to throw a stiff challenge even to a government worker on inaction, the guy who envies an alligator for its’ laziness… You get the point, right!

“We lose out Rs.12,300 crores ($3.075B) to piracy each year”, she started. “I am talking about software, music, movie and books piracy in India”, she continued, “and that’s just the tangible part”. “That’s not bad”, I piped in, not knowing how to put it in perspective. “Not bad! Not bad! Look at this info.”, she was now furious with me.


In comparison, in the 2007-08 budget, Indian government was spending:


Now I got it. We are losing more to piracy than we are spending on our infrastructure, than what we spend on irrigation and nearly half of what we spend on education. “Aha, but we don’t contribute to this”, I was ready to join the Tarzan family by thumping my chest in a testosterone-soaked moment. “Yes, we do” she quipped. “Remember, we watched the movie ‘Tare zameen per’ by renting it from the video store. That couldn’t be an original one. We watched it in the 1st week of its release”. This got me thinking and I started doing some searches.

Software Piracy

In Asia Pacific region, we have achieved the exalted status of 3rd largest country in software piracy1. In 2006, 71% of all software purchased in India is pirate software. Now, that’s better than 2005 in terms of percentage, but unfortunately, the industry is growing faster than that.

We are all guilty to this at some point in our life. Changing the system date to extend a trial period, buying computers from a distributor who provides it cheaper but doesn’t provide copy of the software loaded, borrowing a software CD from a friend with the ‘Key’, etc are just a few examples.

Music Piracy

Here’s one highly abused industry. Get this – In India, annual loss to the music industry due to piracy is Rs. 650 Crores – Size of the industry Rs. 600 Crores. So, we lose a little over an industry each year.

Piracy occurs due to availability of pirated CDs, copying of CDs and peer-to-peer downloads. My mind was playing a flashback for me – (move that pinwheel slowly anti-clockwise with some eerie music, please) That CD that I bought online of Kannadasan that had 168 songs in 1 CD for $13 couldn’t be original, now could it!

India again takes the honor of 3rd place worldwide in music piracy bowing only to Brazil and China. I am feeling a sense of pride in my country already!

Book Piracy

According to the Federation of book sellers and publishers association of India (FBPAI), a conservative estimate of Rs. 2000 crore is lost by publishers to piracy in a Rs. 7000 crore publishing industry.

That includes you and me buying from the street vendor for 20% of the price that we have to pay from a book store, or reading a book online from pirated sources (similar to Harry Potter books being available on day 2 in India through online servers & sources).

This doesn’t even include the photocopies of books that we take to share with fellow students or family.

Movie Piracy

This is an interesting one. We all have watched a pirated movie or two in our lifetime. We have our own reasons for it – unavailability of original ones, movie not aired in our city, that’s what is available in the store etc. Some of my colleagues and friends are frequent users of desitorrent, IndianPad and Techsatish online.

In India it is estimated that movie piracy basically nullifies theatre revenue after only 3 months, nearly half that of a typical U.S. theatrical window. Imagine the sub-industries that we are destroying by our actions – the popcorn, ice cream sellers, the distributors, the manufacturers, the parking attendants etc – it goes on and on.

Imagine, if I spend half my life in writing a book and I am expecting to save for a rainy day through royalty and I get beaten out of it by piracy – how long will authors be willing to write? “See, why it’s so bad!” quipped my wife. I was woken up from my stupor. “Yes, yes. But I don’t believe my friend Manu watches movies online because he’s trying to cheat the industry” I objected. “We don’t realize how big a problem our actions create”, my wife replied. “That’s why I want inaction. Let’s not watch that pirated movie, let’s not buy that cheap book from the street vendor, let’s not download or copy music without paying for it and let’s not use licensed software that we haven’t paid for”, she finished. “You know me, I am all for inaction”, I told her.

“Now, can you leave the garbage out, dear”, she said as she walked out of the room. I had my excuses all lined up.


1 2006 Global Software Piracy Study – IDC Research company – Released May 2007,116842-page,1/article.html


  1. Quote

    Wonderful post, NK.

    When I talk about how bad piracy is, many people think I’m a nut. People post messages to their friends to “scan that Tintin & upload it”. A volume of Tintin costs Rs 275. A 3-in-1 bound edition costs Rs 650. That’s very cheap when you consider the trouble Herge went into to create an ageless classic like Tintin.

    We make it a point to borrow DVDs only from 2 places – Cinema Paradiso & the British Council. Cinema Paradiso has a policy of buying only licensed DVDs – so you’ll only get the movies for which DVDs have been legally released. Plus, the renting charges are higher than that of any other store.

    Music – We buy from i-tunes or its a CD from Landmark (Chennai’s answer to Barnes & Noble). We never copy from anywhere or anyone.

    If you want to see a music video or just listen to a song, YouTube has several videos & you can’t copy them. But – Any idea about the amount of copyrighted content posted by unauthorized people on YouTube? I don’t – would like to know if you have any data about that. What about MusicIndiaOnline – They post only authorized content, I think. I could be wrong though.

  2. Quote


    Its nice initiative, at least there are some body who are thinking like me.

    Just because of that post, I am banned from Indianpad.

  3. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 11:56 am:


    It’s good to see that you are in the minority when it comes to Piracy. The logic that people use to buy the pirated editions or copy of Tintin is – I can’t afford the original price or it’s not available to me. Another reason used is – if it’s so cheap in piracy market, the corporations are trying to swindle me.

    Hema had a good point for this – if you can’t afford it, go to a library and read it or listen to that CD. The irony is this right – we kill one music industry every year in India. One of our relatives was proudly showing us all the movies hosted on their college servers. How nice that we are using money spent on education to improve piracy rates.

    Youtube policy is this – if you think some content is copyrighted, you notify them and it gets taken down immediately.

    I have to do more research on MusicIndiaOnline.

  4. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 12:45 pm:


    I am assuming you are going to abstain from using Indianpad. Hats off to you! We need more like you to come forth.

  5. Quote

    Some pathetic souls say that “piracy is a fight against ticket price hikes by theaters” in Tarakaram’s post. Yeah right.

    These losers will be screaming the most if an auto or cab driver jacks up the fare – “because the govt rates are too low & petrol prices have gone up”. They’ll quote every law point in IPC & CPC to denounce the driver.

    But laws don’t apply to them. Hypocrisy, what else? That’s practiced as a coping skill & art form by many in developing nations!

  6. Quote

    Thanks for your support.

    This post induced me energy to fight against piracy.

    I too can’t afford to purchage softwares, but I shifted to open source one’s.

    But if we want to take a secure position against software piracy we must need support from Industry.

    See, we can get movie cd for 100rs, we can get 2000rs US edition book for 200rs as international edition, the difference is just some online journal or supplementary material. Once Music cd was around 300 rs but now its not more than 50 rupees.

    So, decrease in price actually increased their revenues, and as they are in reach of public we can gather support.

    But MS Office is 20k, Photoshop costs around 65k, how many institutions or people can afford to such high prices. For my Graduation I paid just 20k, but my university need to pay more than 14lakhs every year to get software we learn for each class. So they opted pirated ones.

    Suppose if the price is in reach, then at least my department opted to buy a few editions. Companies dont want to change their policies and people too. Recently Gates said, they will let pirated users from China and India to access their downloads, they can’t control piracy but at least he wants to make his brand popular and can counter Linux.

    So, they are really supporting piracy in one way to attack rivalry, thats not at all good to society. Until then we can’t take stronghold of our positions against Software Piracy.

  7. Quote


    Congrats on your first post. It is really good and has your trademark humor written all over it. I listen music on Good that they introduced the legal music downloads. I really like to see the creative talent get their pie. But are they getting the pie they deserve.

    Hope you are aware of the background of recent writers strike in USA.
    The way the recording industries and movie studios cheat the writers is amazing. When a new technology to sell the content become popular, the industry will go in very aggressively and make good monies. But exclude the writers from getting meaningful royalties. They were literally cheated on DVD technology.

    M$ policy is indeed correct. They encourage piracy indirectly by inaction.

    I came to know what a kind of pirate I am. When I was in my MCA 2nd year, I used to buy books from Landmark. When my cousin asked me to buy “The Road Ahead” from the street-side pirated books seller , I told that I don’t encourage piracy. But few years later when I started earning, he found me stopping near the street books vendor for buying another best seller. When he reminded me that incident and my principle of not buying pirated stuff…I quipped “Then it was my dad’s it is my money”

    But now I am 80% reformed…on and off I watch some old classics on You Tube. The convenience and cheaper(free) availability could be one reason. I really wouldn’t mind watching a movie legal and online if the clarity is as good as DVD ripoffs and really am willing to shell out few dollars more if it is HD content.
    BTW itunes is now allowing us to rent/buy movies. This is a real good sign. I will try it soon.

    The fundamental problem is industry not ready to adopt faster to the technology channels. Why cannot Indian movie houses get a deal done with You Tube for lower quality movie(64 bit stream) for $2 a screening. Can they get better than that?

    Also Indian Movie makers take NRI audience for a ride – low quality cinema halls, low quality copy of Hollywood movies (Hitch-Partner liftoff US distributors for Indian moviews are also to be blamed. They dont have unity and speculate and pay outrageous amounts and make producers think that we are cash cows. While I dont justify watching a pirated movie for these reasons alone, I see that these are very strong drivers that encourage piracy. Why should educated, highly principled, law abiding people resort to piracy? Many even do not know that they are doing it.

  8. Quote


    I believe you hit the nail on one of the reasons behind piracy which could be the potential solution. It boils down to affordability. I believe in the inherent good in people. If you can provide good quality at an affordable price and it is legal, people will go for that option rather than choosing crappy quality product that is way way cheaper just because it is cheap.

    Beyond this, there is also the awareness aspect. We have to make the population aware of the loss to the artists who actually have the talent to produce the product, whether it be movies, music, books etc. More often than not, it is the middlemen (such as Music production companies) that pocket the profit rather than the artist. Technology is improving in this area and will continue to lead down to the path where the music that an artist creates reaches the hands of the consumer via a straight path that eliminates overhead and associated cost.

    However, technology should be used in the right way. I worked for a company called InterTrust that was way ahead of others in recognizing this. However, the solution involved preventing piracy (via DRM) and that probably was one of the reasons it did not succeed. Artists need to get out of the stranglehold of publishers, production companies and deliver quality to the consumer at an affordable price and high quality and piracy as a menace will come down.

    One other aspect, atleast with respect to music, is providing choice to the consumer. Today, with Indian movie songs, a CD comes loaded with all the songs in a movie though I may enjoy just one. But, I have to get the whole CD to just enjoy that one song. What do I do – I download the single mp3 for free even though the quality might be slightly poor. And yes, I confess – I was one of the ones who I vouched to never buy pirated material (especially when I worked at InterTrust), but have since downloaded some free mp3’s when it started biting my wallet way too much.

    A side bar – During one of my recent trips to India, I recorded a whole bunch of Illayaraja songs on a CD from a local music shop and paid the shopkeeper around Rs. 1000 for about 100 songs. Is there a way to compensate Illayaraja for the injustice I have done to him? Either that or I should throw away all those CDs!!


  9. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 4:30 pm:


    You bring up a very good point on MS & Photoshop price. Thinking about this a little bit more – we use this approach only for digital information. Let’s say we don’t have money to purchase a car (as it is priced higher) or don’t have money to purchase a jewelery, we don’t go and steal it from someone. We have come up with an indigenous way of making that car in India at a cheaper price. Jewelery, we pay whatever price it takes to buy it (it’s the same price for gold everywhere)

    I really like your open source idea for software. This could be the indigenous way.

    I also agree with Priya. I think, it’s a mindset change. If we think about the impact that we are having on someone else’s livelihood based on the actions that we take, I am sure we won’t be involved in piracy as much as we are now.

    Microsoft approach to piracy is interesting. I’ll even agree to piracy as long as you are not going out of the microsoft world. Hmmm – Don’t know if that’s the right precedence.

  10. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 7:14 pm:



    I think you are probably right – accessibility and availability combined with lack of awareness that it is hurting the industry is probably the reason why people do it.

    You have a good point about making movies available online for a fee. I think it will also be dependent on how quickly it is made available. Make it available soon, you cannibalize movie going revenue, too late and it’s already available in pirate copies. We are also going through social pressures as well. If someone tells us about a new movie, we feel socially obligated to see that movie, by hook or crook.

    When I wrote this, I wanted to raise the awareness of this prevalent issue. Also, the ulterior motive was to get that 80% of your inner self to fight with the other 20% and convert you 🙂

  11. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 7:25 pm:


    Yes, affordability is one of the key reasons. Accessibility (Privacy) and lack of social stigma could be other reasons.

    Some of the indian movie songs are available in iTunes for $1. I use it when I want to buy only one song and not an entire CD.

    ” Is there a way to compensate Illayaraja for the injustice I have done to him? Either that or I should throw away all those CDs!!” – It sounds like you’re ready to change your new year resolution to “avoid piracy” 🙂

  12. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said February 29, 2008, 8:05 pm:

    Excellent post Sreedhar. Looks like a good discussion is developing already. I agree with Ganesh – it is a combination of affordability and awareness. The middle and upper classes are not aware of piracy even in cases where affordability is not an issue.

    This is why we must encourage companies like Moser Baer who are taking a dramatially different approach. They are selling copyrighted movies for Rs. 35. I wanted Priya Raju to see the movie Mozhi since she can’t go to the theaters, I waited for the DVD release and to my surprise it came on MoserBaer for Rs. 35. What better way to beat piracy in movies? The only problem remaining is the freshness of the content. Since people are eager to see the newest movies, they go and rent a camera-copy of the recent movie and watch it. This is actually a big killer for which there is no easy solution – As Sreedhar says inaction is a solution but how many people can be inactive in the land which is a paradise for movie addicts?

    Music CD prices have come down so much that there is no reason for piracy except due to lack of awareness.

    Software is a different ball game. The prices are so huge as Tarakaram poinst out above that no sane person in India will ever pay that price even if they can afford it.

    I think we must adopt open source software in a big way to counter this. The problem with open source often is that they are not very userfriendly. You need a few computer geeks with you to figure out how to even install let alone use it.

    Ubuntu Linux has blown past this objection also. It is so user friendly that i found it easier to use than Windows and that is saying a lot. I know Windows is not exactly user friendly and it is due to our familiarity with it. But still Ubuntu is showing the shining path forward for open source. If all open source software can be done like Ubuntu, there will be no reason to use pirated commercial software except for applications that embody real Intellectual Property for which no one will object paying for anyway.

  13. Quote

    Sridhar, I resisted my urge to watch a movie when my wife wanted to watch Jodha Akbar online. See your post is already effective.
    Google Docs is a very cost effective alternative for office documents. Check this If you include the data center we have to maintain, hardware costs, license and other costs, for the 99.9% uptime Google is promising, it is a very good deal I guess.

    Ubuntu is a real great success story. Thanks for bringing this into discussion Sukumar. Since I am a software architect, I cannot stop from bringing the JBoss into picture. JBoss really brought down the entry level of Java App Servers which used to cost 50K/CPU. It is no small deal.

  14. Quote
    Subba Muthurangan said February 29, 2008, 9:51 pm:

    Good post. Nowadays piracy is accepted thing in our culture like corruption. If you spend $8.00 for a Tamil movie to watch in movie hall, everybody thinks that he/she is a big spender, and don’t know how to spend money wisely. Because we can get the same movie within 2-3 days in net. I personally experienced this, my friend got heart attack when I bought Friends tamil movie music CD from Sunnyvale Coconut Hill shop. He showed me some sites to download tamil songs for free. So the thought process is, why are we spending money because the same item available for free. For software, I would argue that software companies has to come down price for different regions, it is too pricy for middle class Indians.


  15. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 10:07 pm:


    Heart attack, huh! when you bought the music CD! 🙂 I am sure all it will take is one Indian getting jailed for hosting or downloading music cd from the net. The news will spread quick 🙂

    On another note, my sister-in-law lives near the coconut hill shop.

  16. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 10:15 pm:


    There are so many movies available on TV in India, right! (vijay, sun, jaya …) Why watch camera print movies? Is it because there’s so much social pressure? Why social pressure in watching new movies? Is it because it’s the main form of entertainment?

    I am interested to know why people feel the pressure to watch illegally?

  17. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 10:18 pm:


    I am proud that you are resisting the urge to watch Jodha Akbar!

    Do you think server software piracy is high too? (Jboss) – I have to do some more research on it.

  18. Quote

    The reason why brought JBoss into this discussion is they changed the whole industry paradigm that software license is the sole major way of revenue. JBoss proved that you can give away software free but charge for service. It is quite socialist in nature but isn’t free software not socialist?

    If I write a piece of software which helps businesses use and make money, why cant I get a piece of it? Unless M$ starts developing software at low cost markets like India/ Russia, how can they make profit? Asking corporates to reduce piracy by lowering cost in Asian markets – isnt it like blackmail? That is what North Korea did. 😉 I know I am talking both sides. But frankly I am confused.

  19. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said February 29, 2008, 11:26 pm:


    I guess the reason behind Ganesh and tarakaram’s point about reducing cost in developing countries like India is – you get to sell more and thereby make profits through scale. If you can’t get economies of scale, then it’s blackmail.

  20. Quote


    Thank You. I was thinking the same while driving back from work. Besides economics of scale via population, if there was a mechanism for the artist to publish without the middlemen and be able to reach the masses directly, there is potential for longtail to kick-in. Personally, I think there is huge potential, at least for the music industry. When and how it will happen remains to be seen.


  21. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 1, 2008, 12:00 am:

    I guess that is what we call the water cooler effect – to be in the know of the latest/greatest movies, soaps etc. Added to that is the unparalleled hoopla that surrounds movie stars in India especially Tamilnadu. Just my company alone booked 15-20 full shows for our employees to watch Rajini’s Sivaji movie!

    your solution for eliminating middle men can be applied even to the movie industry, making both the consumption and production of movies much cheaper. The problem i see in India is the lack of Internet penetration which prevents artists from directly accessing their consumers, they are forced to go through the traditional distribution channels which are controlled by the Big Media. So it is going to take a while for that to happen, unless someone figures out a way to distribute all of this through the cell phone which as yet doesn’t have broadband scale speeds for such rich media to be distributed.

    Great discussion folks.

  22. Quote
    Tarakaram (subscribed) said March 1, 2008, 1:49 am:

    Piracy and Pornography are two evil sisters of technology. The best policy to deal with this than sleeping is make them legal. If you are not interested to stop them why dont you make them legal and tax rs.5 or Rs 500 per shop? This shows increase in GDP , unemployment and tax revenue too.

    If Government decided to take strict measures against Piracy, the industry must join hands and adopt appropriate price measures.

    I am not 100% against software Piracy, since, at present if we completely erase piracy then I remained as Inter student, since all my education went with Pirated ones. Dell itself (not dealer, Dell itself, Dell has 100 crore contract with my Univ) supplied all the pirated softwares.

    But we students took initiative to stop using those branded ones just coz we hate their strategy and joined in Open source community.

    M$ support for piracy is utmost, an example from my experience, during my final year, my univ approved Dell contract for more than 500 computers to each department with all necessary licensed softwares. We got all backup packages except Windows, when we approached M$ for that, they simply gave us license key and asked us to get any pirated cd, install XP and enter this Key.
    Since the deal is through World Bank, we have to deal with companies directly not any middlemen, the same with Office 2007.

    We just downloaded the software from rapidshare link, install it and enter license key and M$ will automatically deduct the amount from Univ bank account. See, how lazy they are.

    They are not at all bothered to provide installation packages or anything else, they just give us the key and every time we enter the key in a new system and register online the university gets charged.

    Another twist in the tale is, if you fail to register in 30days, your copy will stop working. And if you use the pirated one, and get caught online, you can use the software for any number of days, but a little warning(or request) pops up every time you log on. So if you genuine user you need to follow rules, else if you are not, cmon enjoy, M$ supports piracy.

  23. Quote
    Tarakaram (subscribed) said March 1, 2008, 1:55 am:

    I forgot to add this,

    After a few weeks, we decided to use only pirated versions of M$ softwares, to save some bucks to Univ.

    Later M$ people visited our department and found that we are using pirated versions of Visual Studio and they offered us to use for free and gave us licensed cds with corporate license so that we can use that at home for free, but we refused and told that we are happy with Pirated copies.

    They charged 4000 odd rupees and 16,000 odd rupees for every copy previously, later when they discovered we are not using Licensed software, they offered them for free. What hell is their strategy?? Why can’t they price 200rs per cd and sell them, then just in one day they can sell 1000 copies for my department people alone. And can get Rs. 2,00,000, if they charge 20k they get Rs 0 revenue. Which is better??

  24. Quote

    Very thought provoking post NK. I have been guilty of sometimes buying those road side books, so I cannot take a high moral ground here.

  25. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said March 1, 2008, 9:24 am:


    Thanks for sharing your personal experience on this. It was an eye-opener for me. In India, it appears that corporations not only are aware of the widespread software piracy, but acknowledge it as well. In some cases, based on your experience, they promote it (Dell). What a sad state of affair!

    I wanted to summarize the discussions so far for everyone’s benefit

    Software piracy: Drivers: affordability. Influence: access. If there’s country-based pricing, perhaps, we’ll have more legal copies.
    Movie piracy: Drivers: social pressure and movie craze. Influence: access. Freshness of content vs. theatre cannibalism still a problem
    Music: Drivers: Unknown. Influence: access. Need some more analysis on why we do it if it’s cheap and affordable
    Books: Drivers: Unknown. Influence: availability. Need analysis on how to stop it

    Let us think about the drivers for music and book piracy. Ganesh made an interesting point on music about not wanting to buy a complete CD. However, there are so many sites that provide the latest and greatest songs that you can hear. Why do we still indulge in piracy.

    For books, it doesn’t sound like affordability is the main driver. Instead of buying 5 books from street-side vendor, I can buy 2 from a authorized shop. For popular books like Harry Potter, social pressure could be the reason. This is one industry where the author gets directly benefited by the number of books sold.

    I’d like further inputs on Music and books – drivers and what barriers we have to kill piracy.

  26. Quote
    sujatha said March 1, 2008, 11:07 am:

    Really an eye opening post Sridhar. The numbers tell what we are doing to the economy but living in the US, most of the VCDs we get at the indian stores are pirated version. I also had the netflix membership for sometime but the indian movies they have are outdated which sometimes compels me to get it at the indian store. Lack of availability is one reason people tend to go for the pirated version.

  27. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said March 1, 2008, 3:37 pm:


    We don’t find time to watch movies. We watch tamil movies mostly through SunTV. One of the main reasons why we don’t rent from the store is because of the pirated VCD.

    Looks like there’s a very good business case for providing streaming video for a price that can be based on tie-ups with producers.

  28. Quote
    sujatha said March 1, 2008, 8:43 pm:

    We don’t watch SUN TV movies or any other tamil masala movies but sometimes movies like “Taare Zameen Par” pushes me to watch the pirated version. After i finish the movie i feel guilty for doing it.

  29. Quote

    Sridhar, the business model should be flexible with
    Old Classics in one tier – Costs $2 per show
    New Releases – $10 per show
    New Hits – $5 per show
    All other movies – $1 per show

    All producers have to come into a profit sharing agreement and allow the industry to stabilize and understand the potential.

  30. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said March 1, 2008, 11:02 pm:


    At least you feel guilty for watching a pirated version. Many of us don’t.

    Look at it this way. Every Indian accounts for nearly Rs.100 worth of piracy each year (1.2 Billion population). Of course, not everyone has access or the means for it. I’d say less than 30% of the top end of the population does. So, each person is responsible for Rs.350 worth of piracy each year. From an amount perspective that is not much. It’s 5 movies at $2 a movie.

    Even if we cut down on one of those movies, or one of that song, or one of that book, and we all do it, we can cut piracy down by 20%. That’s a significant number.

  31. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said March 1, 2008, 11:06 pm:


    Looks like you’ve given it a lot of thought. You’ve even priced this out 🙂

  32. Quote
    Arun (subscribed) said March 2, 2008, 11:10 pm:

    Interesting post, Sreedhar. I am in agreement that piracy is a major issue. But I suspect that some of the ‘revenue lost’ numbers in the post are inflated. I suppose the numbers have been arrived at by multiplying the estimated number of pirated copies sold for a product by the cost for the genuine product. This makes an assumption that people would have bought the genuine product if a cheaper/pirated version was not available. That we know is not necessarily true. Original products would be priced out of range for many that they would not have bought the product even if that was the only option available.

    The movie/music Industry has tried ‘guiltying’ people out of piracy for many years but has had limited success. Along with a wider awareness of the impact of piracy, the industry has to become a bit more ‘humane’ too. They have not won itself support by making some ridiculous copyright claims. The recent Harry Potter guidebook lawsuit ( is a case in point. Such instances just go to show how protective (or greedy) some of these companies can get, making it difficult for them to win supporters over. Frankly in my view, the Indian film fraternity should not have any claims to copyright protection when they shamelessly lift stories, scenes and music for their films from movies from the west (east too these days).

    Then there is the pharmaceutical industry. Till very recently, India has been able to provide affordable medicine to its citizens (and many other countries) because of a very lax patent law (This may change now that the govt has signed the TRIPS agreement). IP protection is a much more difficult decision in such cases. Do you strictly interpret the IP protection and side with the international pharma firms even though they may charge exorbitantly for life saving drugs, or do you allow the manufacture of generic medicines for a ‘greater good’. The situation is not as black or white in such cases.

  33. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said March 6, 2008, 4:43 pm:


    Sorry for not responding earlier.

    I see your point about Indian movies plagiarizing western movies, but that uses the principle, the movie industry is stealing it so why can’t I. I am not sure I agree with you on this. We do want to have the movie industry, even if it’s for the few original versions that they dole out. It’s not fair to take the low-road on piracy and use the plagiarism as an excuse for doing it, right!

    The comparison to pharmaceutical industry is interesting. I am sure you are aware that it takes 8-12 years for a drug to come out (from the research stage to going through clinical trials before it’s ready for circulation). Over 50% of the drugs that go through research and trials die in the vine. Given that scenario, where do bio-tech and pharma companies get their money from to sustain a 8-12 year research cycle. They have to earn it on the few drugs that go out under prescription.

    Now, you bring up an interesting point about life-saving drugs and manufacture of generics in India. In a socialist world, yes, all drugs are available as generics to everyone. But then, Pharma companies will bottom out within a year. Who will then spend the money on researching for newer drugs. In a capitalist society, survival of the fittest is taken as the prime motto.

    Unfortunately, capitalist approach doesn’t help in ailment like aids. That’s why, I like the approach that Bill Clinton’s organization has taken up – to negotiate with pharma companies to provide life saving drugs at a much cheaper cost (similar to generics) in low-income countries, while giving the ability for the organizations to make their money in richer countries.

    Unfortunately, I am not sure if the same corollary exist in the piracy business. Those of us who watch movies or listen to music or get software etc in the piracy market, are the most well to do ones. It’s not because I don’t have the money that I watched the pirated movie or bought that pirated CD. It’s in spite of it.

    If you have alternate suggestions on how to curb piracy, I’d love to hear it. Let’s not accept that it’s a nuisance and it will exist forever.

  34. Quote
    Arun (subscribed) said March 10, 2008, 1:25 am:

    I was not trying to condone piracy. I am in agreement that it needs to be tackled if we need to foster innovation and creativity. I am just trying to suggest that the issue is more nuanced than what we sometimes give it credit for. While there has to be a push to root piracy out, the Industry has to realize and address the conditions that contribute to it – pricing of products, perception that the companies will go to any length for far-fetched and frivolous copyright infringement claims, etc.

  35. Quote
    Ravindran Chellappa said March 10, 2008, 5:17 am:

    Just my two cents – Part of the problem with piracy is that, at least in countries like India, we don’t help people appreciate / understand originality right from the younger ages!

  36. Quote


    I agree with you. Many people are ignorant about originality & how its invaluable. I read with disbelief an interview with Pepsi Uma, where she ignorantly blasts the high cost of original paintings. And goes on to say how they are not even beautiful.

    Not only do people underestimate originality, they also have a very plebian soul.


    I agree with you on the drugs & a few other exceptions. But what about simple things like books & music? A novel by Agatha Christie costs Rs 150 – that’s a very small price to pay for hours of enjoyment. If people can’t afford it, they can rent it for Rs 10 in a library. Why look for a “free” e-book on the web?

    The problem is, people don’t know why they have to pay for something when they can simply copy. This is what is reflected by the plagiarizing movie makers & their shameless acts.

    And people want things that they can’t afford. They won’t let the law stand between them & their object of desire. That’s pretty bad.

    Plus, there’s a certain brag value in saying that you saw “10,000 BC” on the very 1st day. What if you couldn’t get the tickets – there’s a guy video-taping it in the theater. S/he will sell it for Rs 100. Scant regard for the law. That’s the problem.

  37. Quote
    Sridhar N.K said March 10, 2008, 9:09 am:


    Great point. Want vs. affordability is key in this. It’s understandable in situations related to medicine or other important areas, but not on entertainment.

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