Last evening, Avid Learning (which is managed by the Essar Group in India) organised a book launch at ‘Tilt All Day’ (a pub) in Mumbai. The programme was called Breached.
The book, titled Breach, by Amrita Chowdhury, is a cyber-crime thriller which deals with music and video piracy – and the fallouts of the internet culture. Along with author Amrita Chowdhury, the panellists at the discussion were Neeraj Roy of Hungama.com, Sumeli Chatterjee of MTV India, and music journalist Arjun Singh Ravi.
The discussion centred on music piracy, with mentions of video piracy now and then. Internet hackers were blamed. So were teenagers – for their lack of (understanding of) ethics in downloading, copying and sharing music on the internet. Edward Snowden and Wikileaks were shown up as culprits – breach instigators – setting trends in this direction. It was agreed that a solution had to be found to the piracy problem. But no one had one on offer at the time.
I raised a question from the audience on who the criminals were? Were they the ones who obtained the music files illegally, or the ones who uploaded the files on the internet, or the companies which hosted the files on their servers, or the internet and mobile service providers which helped distribute the files, or the consumers (end-users) who downloaded and shared the files with others? No one seemed clear on the prevalent cyber laws in India, so there was no clear answer.
When Indian teenagers were blamed for their lack of ethics – and though there were younger people in the audience – it was I, a 55-year-old person, who spoke up in their defence. I talked about how the Indian music industry had been controlled by a few people and music labels for several decades – about how these people and music labels restricted the production, distribution and listening pleasure of music in India, rationing it out against the sentiments of the consumers. I said that the demand for music has always existed, but the Indian music industry had done nothing about it. I said that, now, thanks to piracy, this demand was being fulfilled.
I suggested that we needed to look at the music piracy problem with an open mind – and concluded by saying that the reason Edward Snowden and Wikileaks were applauded was because they liberated us.
Umm, I think I must have breached something because I felt the panellists hated me right there and then; although several younger people from the audience leaned in to me and congratulated me on my points of view.