US Chamber Of Commerce: Bollywood Is So Successful Without Strong Copyrights That It Will Fail Unless India Strengthens Its Copyrights

from the wtf? dept

The US Chamber of Commerce, the giant lobbying organization who led the fight for SOPA/PIPA, is apparently so invested in "must have stronger copyright laws" that it doesn't even bother making sense any more. It's released a bizarre statement claiming that India needs stronger copyright laws, because Bollywood is so successful. Right upfront, it notes how successful things have been:
Boasting the largest film industry in the world, the creative sector lies at the heart of the Indian culture and economy. As one of India’s largest employment sectors, an endless array of local professionals from technical, theatrical, and creative backgrounds are helping churn out 1,000 films in more than 20 languages annually.
You'd think those are signs that copyright law was working (largest film industry in the world, largest employment sectors, over 1,000 films produced annually -- about double Hollywood) and that this would imply that whatever level of copyright there is in India -- which is supposed to be an incentive to creativity -- was doing a decent job. But, no, apparently it's all broken.
The government, however, must improve national intellectual property (IP) laws and enforcement if it is going to seize on this opportunity and gain recognition in the global market and further empower local creators.
Hmm. Wait, you just said that it's the world's largest film industry and an unqualified success. So, why does it need to improve those laws and enforcement?
Specifically, Indian copyright law is unclear with the 2012 Copyright Act amendments further complicating and contradicting previous rule of law. Furthermore, the 2012 Act provides for broad exceptions that are incompatible with international norms. Also measuring relatively loware enforcement efforts, which are weak in application and don’t provide widely available civil and procedural remedies for copyright infringement.
And, yet, this laxity incentivized the creation of nearly double the films that Hollywood produces. Perhaps -- and I'm just suggesting things here -- the "international norms" and the higher levels of enforcement are holding back the industries elsewhere. If anything, this report seems to suggest that other countries should move towards broad exceptions, since it appears to have been quite successful in India.

Furthermore, much of the paper seems to suggest that India needs to fix its copyright laws to embrace the international opportunity for its films -- but that (again) makes no sense. India's IP laws don't apply outside of India, so they have no impact on the international opportunities, which are governed by other IP laws. And, again, if the industry is doing great in India (with little enforcement and greater exceptions), doesn't this indicate that India should push for the same elsewhere to better embrace that international opportunity?

It's quite a world in which the US Chamber of Commerce seems to be arguing that an example of a success story should lead to that successful model emulating less successful markets. I don't know how much money the MPAA pays the US Chamber of Commerce for these kinds of pieces, but it's not getting its money's worth.

Filed Under: bollywood, copyright, india, success
Companies: chamber of commerce


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  1. identicon
    IDAR, 18 Jun 2013 @ 4:09pm

    At first read, I did not to find any issues with your piece, Mike, if I may call you by your first name. However, on second read, I noticed the words "this opportunity" in the quote you pulled out of Chamber's statement. This phrase seemed unconnected with anything you quoted. So I reluctantly opened their statement myself, and lo and behold, in context, this phrase actually makes sense. This is what was omitted from your quote:

    With a young population where over half a billion people are under 25 years old, Bollywood as well as Hollywood are experiencing growth that may be far outpacing the Indian economy. With an eager and growing workforce and multiplying diaspora overseas, creative content may edge its way up to be India’s greatest export.

    The government, however, must improve national intellectual property (IP) laws and enforcement if it is going to seize on this opportunity and gain recognition in the global market and further empower local creators.


    The opportunity is expansion into international markets. Also, the push for adoption of international norms makes sense now. Of course their statement could have absolutely no merit. This statement could be mistaken as well for some reason I can't figure out because I lack the required knowledge in the relevant laws and past precedents.

    That being said, I don't think you can allow yourself to take the easy path here and simply label what they said as making no sense. So far I have read with delight your posts and your analyses generally seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I can't wait for your discussion of their actual message, and not the surely-inadvertent straw man you erected instead.

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