Is Bollywood India’s Next Greatest Export?

By Jasper MacSlarrow

Boasting the largest film industry in the world, the creative sector lies at the heart of the Indian culture and economy. As one of India’s largest employment sectors, an endless array of local professionals from technical, theatrical, and creative backgrounds are helping churn out 1,000 films in more than 20 languages annually.

With a young population where over half a billion people are under 25 years old, Bollywood as well as Hollywood are experiencing growth that may be far outpacing the Indian economy. With an eager and growing workforce and multiplying diaspora overseas, creative content may edge its way up to be India’s greatest export.

The government, however, must improve national intellectual property (IP) laws and enforcement if it is going to seize on this opportunity and gain recognition in the global market and further empower local creators.

The GIPC’s International IP Index, Measuring Momentum, spotlighted the good, the bad, and the ugly of India’s IP regime, compared to that of 10 other countries. While creative industries like Bollywood have enormous potential, the lack of deference for protecting and enforcing creative rights like copyrights are posing enormous challenges to the fledgling industry.

Specifically, Indian copyright law is unclear with the 2012 Copyright Act amendments further complicating and contradicting previous rule of law. Furthermore, the 2012 Act provides for broad exceptions that are incompatible with international norms. Also measuring relatively loware enforcement efforts, which are weak in application and don’t provide widely available civil and procedural remedies for copyright infringement.

With enormous piracy rates hacking off anywhere from $1.2 to $4 billion in the domestic economy, it’s clear that the government needs to act. The huge growth in movie ticket sales is in large part to the massive growth of multiplexes, which in turn employ more people and facilitate a greater cultural exchange. These jobs, the countless jobs of those in the industry, and India’s biggest export opportunity are likely to go by the wayside if IP rights are not clarified, protected, or enforced.

Subscribe for updates from GIPC