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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



“Film is the most regulated medium in India”—Uday Singh, MD, Motion Picture Distributors’ Association

“Film is the most regulated medium in India”—Uday Singh, MD, Motion Picture Distributors’ Association

Copyright, intellectual property and piracy issues were discussed at the one-day conference on Copyright and the Creative Economy, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), in association with Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). Interactive sessions were held at the Sofitel Hotel, Mumbai, on 21st July, wherein the speakers included Uday Singh, Managing Director, Motion Picture Distributors’ Association.

Comparing film with TV, Singh said film was much more regulated than TV, and that Over-the-Top (OTT) media have only emerged very recently and do not have any regulating. But piracy is eating away both profits and livelihoods, he lamented. “One humble ‘copyright’ impacts all the people associated with a film—not only producers and stars, but also set constructors and catering contractors. 80% people access media through mobile phones, and 45% of them access entertainment content. Interests of the entertainment industry need to be protected. Specific issues need to be addressed.

Referring to the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, Singh was happy that it was amended in 2012, but further considerations are needed now. “We are living in an era when even basic necessities have been replaced by the demand for entertainment. Earlier, Indian priorities were rotee, kapda aur makaan (food, clothing and home). The slogan has since been modified to rotee, kapda aur entertainment.”

On the issue of pricing of entertainment content, he felt that market forces should decide. “It certainly cannot be free,” he added. “Free is formidable foe. In this context, a campaign like ‘Torrent Must Die’ makes sense.” (Video streaming platform, Hotstar, part of the STAR TV group that has exclusive rights to provide HBO content in India, including the immensely popular Game of Thrones, has declared a war of sorts, a few days ago. They call it ‘Torrents Morghulis’, which is a variation of ‘Valar Morghulis’. ‘Torrents Morghulis’ translates as ‘All Torrents Must Die’. This campaign includes four TV commercials and an outdoor campaign in major cities, is intended to attack illegal downloading. There is a hoarding put-up not too far from conference venue).

When it comes to movies, “We need to protect the opening week. Initial box-office takings are crucial. A film is like a parachute, if it doesn’t ‘open’, you are dead.” Commenting on the copyright period, Singh opined, “It is 60 years as of now. Perhaps this needs to be reconsidered and extended.” In his concluding remarks, Singh insisted that as an industry, films can contribute much more to the Indian economy than they do now and even add significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Copyright-related woes of the printing and publishing industry were also highlighted. Two eminent personalities from the world of books were present on the dais: Vikas Gupta (President, Association of Publishers in India and MD, Wiley India) and Aditi Maheshwari-Goyal (Director, Copyrights and Translation Department, Vani Prakashan). Lawyer Ameet Datta moderated the session, which was called Driving Economic Growth trough Creative Industries. Also present was Jagdeesh Swaroop, Deputy Registrar, Copyright Office, Government of India.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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