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Illegal downloads set to end

Shivani Shinde  |  Mumbai 

With India crossing the 200 million mobile subscriber mark and approximately 25-30 per cent of phone models in the market capable of music transfers, music piracy has assumed a new avatar.
The legitimate mobile music market is around Rs 400 crore, which includes products like monophonic and polyphonic, true tones, ringback tones and full song mobile downloads and music videos.
Considering royalty (for music industry) on products like full songs download at approximately Rs 5 per download and that there is only one illegal transfer permitted per phone per month the loss amounts to Rs 15 crore annually.
This illegal download of music on to the mobile phones is called mobile chip piracy. Digitised music can be easily copied from any storage device like a computer hard disc or USB drive, mobile phone with stored music etc. into the built in memory of a mobile phone or on memory cards or chips which can be further inserted into other mobile phones.
While this is a global phenomenon, it is for the first time that the Indian Music Industry (IMI) is making an effort to stop this before it erodes the revenue stream of music companies like it is already happening in the software, gaming and the movie segments.
Savio D'souza, general secretary, IMI believes that while earlier music was being downloaded on mobile handsets through the providers, very few pilferages would happen. However, now with most of the phones being advertised as music devices, the potential of piracy has increased.
IMI has carried out over a 100-120 raids pan-India as a step towards controlling the situation.
IMI is a consortium of over 90 companies including labels such as SAREGAMA, Universal Music, Tips, Venus, BMG Crescendo, Sangeetha, Sony Music, VirgiIt and others.
"In the years to come 25 per cent of all the raids done to control piracy will be for mobile piracy," adds D'souza.
Moreover, IMI is also carrying out special induction training programs for police officials to help give them a clear understanding of the flourishing racket and how it operates. Most of the time when raids are conducted on piracy, few realise that other than movies and games, music is also getting pirated.
Mandar Thakur, general manager, Soundbuzz India, while agreeing with what IMI is doing, feels that music companies can be a little proactive and try and monetise these business segment.
"Most of the time the local dealer gives lead music onto the handset as a value-addition. The music company can rather work with them and licence this music," he adds.
The Singapore-based Sounbuzz, an online and mobile music retailer providing downloadable music and videos, has already worked on such a model for the Australian market. Where the company has introduced voucher cards that can be used to download music on to the cell phones.
Music players like Sony Music and SAREGAMA are looking at such a method proactively. Besides Essar Mobile shop is already doing some work in this direction.

First Published: Fri, October 26 2007. 00:00 IST