It may sound alarming, but the Indian music industry lost a whopping Rs 1,800 crore (approximately US $378 million) over the last three years to 'illegitimate' music.
According to the Indian Music Industry, of the 4.9 crore (1 crore = 10 million) cassettes manufactured and sold every month in the country, nearly 1.6 crore, or a third, are manufactured illegally and sold by pirates.
Other than the music companies and artistes, the government also loses up to Rs 100 crore ($21 million) every year in excise duty and sales tax.
The IMI is a consortium of more than 50 music companies, including several prominent regional and national labels such as SAREGAMA, Universal Music, Tips, Venus, Magnasound, BMG Crescendo, Sangeetha, Sony Music, Virgin and Milestone.
IMI says the music industry in India is going through an unprecedented crisis on account of falling sales, high indirect taxes, no major hits, falling prices of music cassettes and compact discs, and increasing piracy.
IMI's anti-piracy team, in association with local police authorities, conducted 249 raids in 2002 in Tamil Nadu, as opposed to 85 in 2001, and seized 56,748 pirated music cassettes, 55,401 CDs, and 86 computers/CD writers.
To improve awareness about the offence and its impact on the music industry, the IMI on Wednesday conducted a copyright workshop for Chennai police officers under its anti-piracy campaign codenamed 'Sound of Silence'.
Despite being identified as a criminal offence, piracy has not been effectively controlled, said retired police officer Julio Ribeiro, the IMI's chief anti-piracy coordinator.
"Police authorities have been very co-operative in our quest against piracy," he said. "[But] there is a lot more that needs to be done to improve the situation. Through such workshops, we not only aim to sensitise police officials on the need for stricter regulations against piracy, but also seek their support in curbing this menace."
IMI officials said there is also a need for stronger judicial involvement to curb piracy. They suggested that audio piracy be made a non-bailable offence, to be tried by magistrates empowered to impose fines going up to lakhs of rupees. They also suggested regulation of the manufacture and replication of optical discs and making the use of an SID code compulsory on the manufacture and replication of such discs.