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Anti Piracy Awareness
It is a matter of immense pleasure and privilege for me to have been invited to participate in the celebrations of world’s first Anti Piracy Awareness Day. I am thankful to the organization to have given me an opportunity to share my thoughts with the distinguished gathering. For the past twenty-five years I have been fighting a war against Piracy. In my experience as a lawyer prosecuting the people from all walks of life engaged in the manufacture, sale or distribution of pirated goods, I find the urge for easy and quick money being the dominant factor in inciting people (not necessarily unemployed) to engage in illegal trade of Piracy supplemented by a feeling that punishment is either too meager as compared to the benefits or can be avoided because of weakness in law or the system.
I have seen people not only across the whole country but across the whole world being tempted to be a ‘Pirate’ and still have no social, economic or political stigma attached thereto like any other panel offences.
Pirate, a white collar Criminal, despite the fact that he can be most devastating to the society and nation, more often than not carries on air of respectability with him and accordingly the attitude of Law enforcement agencies is also less rigorous towards him. The differences can be classified into three broad categories viz.:
Today, we live in an environment, which is polluted all around, what we breath, or what we during is all polluted. The environmental pollution, of late, has been recognized as a form of pollution having direct and visible effect on our health and life. The people, Government, Law enforcement agencies are becoming more and more conscious day by day to the consequences of such pollution and also the need to take remedies measures in this regard.
The pollution of Piracy, as I may call it, is very much on our horizon and perhaps we have not taken the same as seriously as we ought to have taken Pollution of Piracy may not be as visible as other pollutions but the pollution of Piracy not only has a direct effect on our life but also on the life and economy of the nation as a whole.
Imagine a sequence of daily rituals. You get up in the morning to have pirated tooth paste or tooth brush to clean your teeth. A cup of tea or coffee may not give you the flavour for which you have paid for wearing apparels may carry a brand not necessarily originating from the source indicated on the product.
While trying to keep your appointment, your vehicle breaks down on the way. Not because you did not maintain your vehicle properly or regularly but the service station fixed the spares which were imitations.
There is no guarantee that the food you consume is as pure as you heard from your grand parents or as it used to be in good old times. You may have pure ghee but the purity is not even guaranteed by some manufacturer.
God forbids, if you fall sick, you suffer for days together not because of in competency of the Doctor or negligence of nursing homes but because the medicines you consume are not genuine and are spurious.
Your entire data, information, resources, which took ages for compilation can vanish overnight because pirated software was used to store such data or information.
Best of the melodies become turn sour because of Piracy.
The list of such instances is endless. The crux of the matter is that we find Piracy all around whether items of food, medicines, domestic appliances, music, cinematographic films, household appliances, automobile parts, consumer goods and so on.
It is not only the common man who is a sufferer at the hands of a Pirator but the society as a whole. The State is equally the sufferer on account of loss of revenue in terms of Excise, Customs, Sales Tax, Income Tax etc. The health of Domestic Industry is also damaged and a hindrance is created in the growth of Domestic Industry.
Having known about the Pollution of Piracy what have we really done to eradicate or control the pollutants i.e. Pirates or to prevent the spread of cancer of Piracy in the Society.
I do not think that Pollutions of Piracy can be wiped out by a stroke of a pen because it involves tremendous illegal money. It is the lust of illegal and quick money which makes a person ‘pirate’.
At this stage, I would like to pause and share some of my experiences with you.
A Pirator was arrested, who was manufacturing spurious drugs under a famous brand CROCIN. On his arrest the accused took the defence that he was manufacturing the drug under a valid license issued by Drug Controller and thereafter his acts were permitted by law. Though such a defence was ultimately held to be unavailable but the drug license did make the prosecution of accused more lengthy and expensive.
Haldiram’s in United States took an action against Piracy. The accused took the plea of valid import from India as a defence. Since Haldiram was holding statutory rights in the United States, the defence was rejected. The litigation on foreign soil could have been avoided if the objectionable material had been detained at the port of Export by customs.
In a remote corner of State of Bihar a parallel manufacturing unit engaged in the manufacture of complete range of consumer products of well-known company was detected. The pirator was discovered to be the President of the District Committee of a National Political Party and during the course of Police raid, the complete change in the attitude of Law enforcement agencies was openly visible.
A mini cement plant was discovered engaged in the manufacture of spurious cement under a well-known brand. On complaint made to the S.P., the genuine as well as spurious bags were shown to the police and the S.P. got so excited that he directed his officers to take immediate action and to arrest all offenders. When the offenders were discovered, goods seized and reported the police changed the attitude because of the influence the accused had in the State Government. It was only on account of the intervention of High Court, the Company could succeed in curbing the Piracy.
There are many experiences of legal actions against Piracy of music, films, computer software. The music and film Industry has been complaining for years about the loss suffered by it on account of Piracy and I must confers that on account of the Crusade / efforts of Industry, the law relating to Copyright was amended for number of times with the changing requirements of Society.
Very recent we have also seen the cases of counterfeit currency. Imagine the consequence; it may have on the economic health of the Country.
Legislation is one aspect of dealing with the menace of Piracy.
Effective enforcement is another aspect, which cannot be overlooked. Without effective enforcement of law, the very objects for which the laws are made are lost.
Take an example of the provision of relating to the prosecution of accused for the offences of Piracy or falsification in the new Trade Marks Act, 1999, which is availing notification. The entire Bill was debated and passed in Rajya Sabha in two hours and in Lok Sabha less than one Hour was allotted for the debate. I was personally briefing Members of Parliament on the implications of new provisions in the Act concerning Enforcement but the view point could not be presented to the Parliament on account of the shortage of tune allotted for the completion of business.
Laws do require changes to meet the international obligations but at the same time, it is the duty of the State to ensure that national interests are fully safeguarded.
The speed with which the technology is changing, the law enforcement agencies must be equipped not only with the knowledge of laws but also the means, process and technology to uncover the crimes of Piracy.
I strongly feel that proper training of Enforcement agencies, judicial officers is need of the hour for curbing the pollutions of Piracy.
Gone are the days when robbers had to plan their illegal acts at the great risk to their life. Computer literate robber can rob you with a click of a button without hurting you physically or putting his own body to harm.
State is also required to share its responsibility in not only legislating effective laws but also providing proper infrastructure for controlling the menace of Piracy. Public awareness must be created not only by the manufacturer, who are directly affected but also by the trade associations and the State. The State is bound to be the biggest gainer in extending its hand of Support to all such forces, who are determined to fight against Pirator.
Let us take a view that the seeds of Piracy would not be allowed to be germinated at the threshold and we will make all endeavors to make the new millennium a Piracy Free Millennium.
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