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An Underground Discourse


By Arul George Scaria
Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 324, Rs. 795.00


The story of piracy is the story of a discourse that manages to remain hidden from the overarching gaze of the Government. Irrespective of strong or weak enforcement systems prevalent all over the world to stop piracy, this underground discourse has survived and replicated. The traditional scholarship on piracy presents a clear-cut binary. Piracy is argued as the discourse of angst underlining the poverty-ridden conditions of the citizens while copyright or anti-piracy law is often interpreted as a draconian measure to subjugate the low-income strata of the country. Debunking this traditional notion Piracy in the Indian Film Industry: Copyright and Cultural Consonance by Arul George Scaria presents how the welfare of the country is related to anti-piracy laws.  Scaria, who received his doctoral degree from the Faculty of Law at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Munich, has transformed his thesis into this book. In a space of six chapters that span 324 pages, Scaria offers us an epic example of interdisciplinary scholarship in economics and law.  In the Introduction, the writer divulges the four reasons for choosing the Indian film industry rather than any other industry in the world: Dearth of piracy scholarship on the Indian film industry; India is generally considered a developing economy with a weak Intellectual Property (IP) enforcement system; the writer claims that knowledge capital generated through anti-piracy laws will promote the welfare of the people from all strata of society; awareness and implementation of better IP protection in India can facilitate a flurry of foreign investments in India.  The book, claims to have an innovative and unique approach to understand the nature of piracy that ails the Indian film industry. By engaging in participatory research with different intellectual communities to understand the divergent perspectives surrounding piracy in India Scaria not only identifies the flaws in the current paradigm but also presents the solution by suggesting ‘the need for a paradigm shift for higher copyright compliance levels, based on the perspectives of the local people and the various social, cultural, legal and economic dimensions of the people’ (p. 20).  Two chapters provide an overview of the historical and cultural evolution of copyright law in India and analyse the approach of the judiciary in India towards copyright related issues. Then follows a wide array of surveys and insights about the perspectives of consumers in India regarding copyright piracy. Offers optimal legal and policy options on the basis of the ...

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