Buses in Tamil Nadu will soon stop playing movies or songs for passengers during a journey, following a meeting of bus operators with the state Intellectual Property Right Enforcement Cell (IPREC).
The Times of India reported that private bus operators had agreed to remove audio systems and TV sets from nearly 7,000 vehicles by December 31, after they claimed that it was impossible to comply with copyright laws, even if they chose to screen movies legally. Special drives had also been conducted over the years, to curb piracy.
"All these years, cases were booked against bus operators only under the Cinematography Act, 1952. Though the Copy Rights Act, 1957 can be invoked, it was hardly done," an IPREC official told ToI.
Piracy has been a problem in the private transport sector for several years now, but the first action was taken in May last year, when two drivers of private buses were arrested for screening pirated versions of newly-released Tamil movies.
On May 13, on a complaint by South Indian Artistes' Association general secretary Vishal, police arrested a bus driver with a private operator for illegally screening new Tamil film Theri, starring actor Vijay. The vehicle travelling from Bengaluru to Chennai, and a passenger on the bus alerted the actor that the driver was playing the film on the coach.
Vishal asked the passenger who made the complaint to shoot the screening of the film on his cellphone as proof. He then called the police video piracy wing and officers stopped the bus near Maduravoyal and arrested the driver.
A week later, the police arrested another driver of a private bus for screening a pirated copy of Suriya-starrer 24. Members of Nadigar Sangam received a tip-off about the driver playing a film on a bus heading from Dindigul to Chennai and contacted the city police. Policemen arrested the driver when the bus arrived in Chennai.
Following this, the Nadigar Sangam (South Indian Artistes' Association) had sent letters to all private bus operators in Chennai, alerting them to desist from the illegal practice or face police action.