Gnanavel Raja takes on Tamil Rockers.. 

Last week, one witnessed an emotional outburst of Producer Gnanavel Raja, during a promotion event for the Vijay Antony Starrer ‘ Yeman’. Understandably, for all the pain that Raja has gone through as a producer, being able to do nothing, he spewed all venom against ‘Tamil Rockers’, an alleged website that promotes Online Media Piracy of Tamil films.

Although Tamil Rockers is just one of the possible hundreds of ‘strength-in-depth’ Tamil based Piracy websites, TamilRockers has nearly became the face of ‘Tamil Piracy’. The reason for this has to be strongly attributed to its presence on Social Media, typically, something that has become a way of our lives – The Meme culture.

It is unknown who makes these memes supporting Tamil Rockers. It could be someone associated within the website network itself or it could be a fan or a supporter, but with the power of social media, TR has obtained immense popularity over atleast the last 6 months.

This has immensely helped the site differentiate itself from its potential competitors, and has nearly almost grown to become the face of ‘Tamil Piracy’, as much as ‘The Pirate Bay’ represented the ‘Adhi’ and ‘Andham’ of Piracy at its peak.

The moot problem in my opinion in this case is while TR like any other Piracy network causes monetary losses to the Cinema Industry, it additionally with its memes coming out on Social media ( which the public mock for a minute and forget) takes a dig at the near impotency of the Film Industry, that they can do nothing about it.

So, now Gnanavel Raja has decided to jump into the administrative bandwagon to see if he can control this horse. He hopes to pin down ‘TR’ in six months and stream the live event of sending the folks behind ‘TR’ to jail. The irony however is that, even if such an event happened, neither would it be a ‘publicity stunt’ or a ‘deterrant’. How many of the public even remember the raids that Actors ‘Parthiban’ and Vishal did on Pirated DVDs? How many people remember Poor Premji coming out and cribbing against Pirates, when Biriyani’s Audio was pre-release-pirated? I dont think there would be many.

Even if we assume that ‘TR’ is shut down for good, will it affect the Public? I don’t think so. Names like ‘MegaUpload’, ‘KAT’ and “TPB’ were once names ‘allegedly’associated with Piracy. They are no longer at their prime. Infact, some of the leaders in this field do not exist. Their assets have been seized, their Servers are down and they no longer are able to serve feeds, as they once used to. Does this make a difference on the users, who once used these websites? No. Those who consumed such content have simply moved on. Their attitude towards both the ‘copyright holder’ and the ‘person or website serving such content’ is just ‘indifference’.


A very interesting response from the end users perspective, taken from a Social Media post which came into my FB feed. A lot of these points have been discussed at various places earlier, like Cheran’s C2H business model for example. 

Cinema which has one of the most distinctive features of being an early’ art’ and ‘cultural’ medium that brought various classes of people together seems to slowly move toward in a direction not much desirable,  from the perspective of the generic film watching public. 
Newer Technologies for communication keep coming. Pirates usually rely on the strength of ‘technology’ while the Anti-Piracy group relies on ‘legal means’.  Each time, the mirage of having caught up appears, the gap distances itself in the next round.

 

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User Generated Content – The Life Blood of the Internet and an AntiThesis of the Traditional Copyright System…

The Internet has been accused by many people, typically most of them associated with the Motion Picture Industry of harbinging piracy, and scaling exponentially the quantum of localised DVD piracy. This perspective isn’t entirely false, the only trouble is that when one sees things from a holistic perspective, the Internet has actually broken the back of what the traditional copyright system stood for.

The traditional copyright system which involved 2-3 centuries ago was designed to be a motivational tool for artists and creators. Over a period of time, it became a very limited monopoly, allowing only few people into it. It limited opportunities for creators and made them dependent on the publishers or the producers. In many cases, the bulk of the revenue was earned by the publishing companies, and the artists only got a small percentage of the royalty. This argument is ‘fair enough’ to some extent, because the publisher bears the risk in case of financial loss. This issue concerns the producers and the artists, but the larger problem of this system was that since a huge amount of investment was needed, it limited the distribution of the created content.

The Internet was designed to be a distribution medium, and a great one at that, and was never intended by its creators to be the next big market place. It is this thing that has gone terribly against the traditional copyright content creators, and is the reason why monetization of copyrighted content seems to be such a pain point for the copyright industry, typically the Film Industry in India.

Today, things have changed. Tonnes of content are created by users, and flipped around the Internet. No one knows who created them, no one knows how many millions, they will reach. Understandably, the content dies a quick death. But no one charged any money to create content, no one paid any money for purchase or access of content, and no one charged anything for distribution, all done within the framework of Internet access, thus completing the cycle of what the copyright industry stood for.

The underlining point here, is ‘access-to-anyone’ to be a part of this new system, something that was not a part of the original Copyright system. The potential to earn money is definitely much much lower, although the potential to win yourself millions of hearts definitely is. The stars of the Internet may never be as big as Stars of the Silver screen, but content creators like TheViralFever, AllIndiaBackchod, Bloggers like Lavanya Mohan, Krish Ashok etc have all earned fan bases for themselves.

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As with film or primary material like news paper, cartoons, these user generated content hold historical evidence of user’s thought processes and their lifestyles, at a given point in time. Even if users may use Copyrighted content as a base for content derivation, most of it would definitely fall within the realm of ‘Fair Use’.

Without User generated content, Engines like Facebook, Blogger, Wikipedia, YouTube or Twitter would cease to exist. The amount of time spent by ordinary users accessing content on these popular portals, had they not been there, may have gone towards watching Top-Down,native copyrighted content like Films, whether legally or not.

We have also reached a critical point where we need to debate if User Generated Content is as valuable or equal to that of Traditional Copyrighted Content, today for the ordinary Indian citizen. If that be the case, shouldn’t the Industry be seeing this as a more dire threat rather than continuing to focus and blame Piracy, when legitimate threats have already encircled it from the flanks, when one considers the ‘expendable-time’ factor?

Rohini’s Appavin Meesai – Crowd Funding Hopes and the Lost ‘C2H’ connection

Rohini is a fine actor. Her role in Marupadiyum as the insecure actress and mistress of Nizhalgal Ravi, still flashes across my eyes. She has acted in several films under the auspices of several legends of Tamil cinema.

For the past several years, her maiden attempt at making a film ‘Appavin Meesai’ has faced several problems, most of which may have been tied up with the other financial troubles of the original producer -Director Cheran. Cheran was the man who bravely attempted to re-define ‘legitimate movie distribution’ in India through the ‘Cinema2Home’ venture, an attempt that has now almost invariably, bitten the dust.

I never fully agreed with Cheran’s views from the beginning and waited to publish an article here on C2H, hoping that i would get an attempt to get in touch with him for an interview so that i could discuss some of my views with him. Inspite of several attempts to get in touch with the director, I did not get a response.

None the less, Director Cheran’s brave attempts need to be appreciated, even after the C2H brand slowly disappears from public memory.

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‘Appavin Meesai’ was touted to be one of the first films to be released from the C2H stable, along with other names like ‘Arjunanin kadhali’ and ‘Koditta Idangalai Nirapuga’ . As we can see from the original poster of the film, ‘Appavin Meesai’ was originally produced by Nivedha Priyadarshini, daughter of Cheran, and was the pioneering woman who handled the administrations and operations aspects of C2H network and assisted her father ably. 

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The film ‘Appavin Meesai’ never saw a release eventually, C2H or otherwise. After JK Ennum Nanbanin Vazhkai, C2H managed to release only one more film on DVD. Its online operations never took off – ‘Ettithukkum Madha Yaanai’

 

Today, with possibly resources drying up, Appavin Meesai gets a new lease of life. Rohini has attempted the crowd funding model to raise 40 Lakh Rupees to finish the post production works of the film. It also appears that the movie has changed hands. There seems to be no association of this film, in any manner with the C2H distribution network or Cheran as the producer anymore.

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This is not the first time that Tamil Film makers have chosen Crowd Funding to get through the last leg of their projects. Director ‘Kudisai Jayabharathi’ also made a similar attempt last year, but failed. 

Let us hope that Director Rohini is more lucky and does manage to release her film. Good Luck.

 

‘Katthi Sandai’ Cam Prints are out Online !!!

Although Actor Vishal was quite confident and said that a lot of things have happened in the background to arrest potential piracy of his upcoming film ‘Kathi Sandai’, the pirates seem to have won, this round of the battle as well. As of now, the movie is available online, in less than 24 hours of the film’s release.

Maybe in an hour or two, these links will be communicated and Antipiracy activitists on behalf of the film will get this link down from the internet, but by then enough damage would have been done already. This cam print alone will generate thousands of seeds which will keep re-appearing all around the Internet in various forms, again and again.

In the next couple of days, this print will be taken and analysed and the source theatre will be identified. Maybe, a red card may even be issued to shut down the theatre or it may end up in limbo.

I don’t get how this ‘Red card’ benefits the industry because the Pirates will then hop over to some other theatre, unless proven that there is a direct nexus between the Theatre owner and the Pirate, something that seems extremely unlikely in every case, and definitely not something that will be quite common. If the employee of a theatre connives with the pirate, will the theatre owner be responsible? In theory yes, but my feel is that theatres in B/C centres and rural areas hardly make any money of significance these days to issue these kind of additional surveillance mechanisms, for the owner of the theatre to make his presence felt.

If this is the road ahead, then the only possible outcome of this action could be that eventually all theatres will get ‘red carded’, with the industry eventually having no theatres to release.

It will be interesting to see Vishal’s interview on Saturday. I am eagerly awaiting to see his response.

Vishal’s Interview with Sreedhar Pillai

For the past couple of years, Actor Vishal has been one of the few celebrities who have openly voiced dissent against the act of Piracy, right from attempting surprise raids on Bazaars, Cable Networks and even Buses. Naturally, it was expected that he would have something spicy for his upcoming film.

A very interesting interview given by Actor Vishal to Film Critic Sridhar Pillai. Pillai has been quite crisp on his questions ranging from the Nadigar Sangam issues, Piracy, Actor Salaries, controversies and Vishal has been open and the clarity of his answers to the questions need to be appreciated. Here are my two pence on having seen the interview, above.

It is 23rd December today and the movie ‘Katthi Sandai’ has released today. Vishal has been quite vocal for some time on the issue of Piracy and as expected, he seems to be speaking of some kind of magic portion, which he believes will have some sort of impact. My gut feeling is that Maybe, by tomorrow or day after, a pirated print will emerge. It will be interesting to see what Vishal may have to say tomorrow. Vishal raises the problem of ‘small budget films’ and producers. Ironically, by releasing the film in so many screens provides so much pressure to ‘small budgets’ that have got a release already and creates difficulty in finding theatres for small budget films.

Vishal says that addressing the problem of Piracy at its ‘root’ would mean taking action as fast as possible. I think the root of the problem is public apathy’ to the problem from the industries perspective and ‘content demand’ from the perspective of the public. I think Vishal can do nothing against this. He also raises the issue of lack of action against a theatre, which is alleged to have leaked a film print. I have expressed my views here.

Understanding ‘Internet Piracy’ concepts via Our Own Tamil Cinema..

One of the feedbacks that I had recently got from a respected individual is that , he had given me was that the blog was too technical and difficult to grasp from a common man’s view point. I agree. I had planned that the English version be a little more technical, but the Tamil translation to be a diluted version and talking in even more layman terms. So, keeping this in mind, i have decided to do a simple illustration to explain a concept, which i have spoken in another Video. I am trying to explain, How Decentralisation of the Internet largely benefits Piracy. I have also added the ‘Ramana’ Footage for Reference.

 

Ramana_Centralised

 

So, as the Yugi Character mentions, you can see in the Image that probably Kumaresan and Zakir Hussain probably don’t know each other, yet there is a centralized node that connects both of them, without themselves knowing each other. The centralized Node ( Professor Ramana) instructs them and is clearly hierrarchially much higher than the others. So, a collapse of the Central Node, will destroy the system, so, by tracking the smaller nodes and mapping them together, eventually, Professor Ramana comes out and reveals himself and with that the ACF network collapses, which is what the conclusion of the movie, also is.

Unfortunately, the Movie industry may have wished that Piracy and Internet Piracy in particular worked in this fashion. Sadly, it is not. It works in an entirely de-centralized fashion, something like this.

Ramana_Decentralised

 

You can see in this kind of network architecture, again Possibly, Kumaresan and Zakir Hussain do not know each other. They may not even know Professor Ramana, because, each node can independently operate on its own, yet seek support from its nearest node. Typically beyond one or two levels, communication is not accessible for a single node.  The advantage of this system in the context of Piracy, is that there is no single Professor Ramana here. Even Zakir Hussain and Kumaresan themselves have the power of Professor Ramana. Zakir Hussain, Kumaresan, Ramana and everyone in the network may be doing more or less the same kind of work. So, at some level, they act as competitors, yet they also share knowledge and common resources, which are distributed, so that, there is no single point of failure.

The typical pattern that we see is by the time, Law and Enforcement catches up with one or two nodes, hundreds of new nodes are created else where. More over, a single node may himself not know beyond one or two nodes himself, so, this complicates the situation, even more.