Intellectual property theft: Piracy threatens Pashto CD drama industry

Faced with heavy losses, many producers consider abandoning business.

Hidayat Khan August 23, 2012


For the producers of Pashto dramas, manufacturing CDs for their products is a financial liability rather than a source of income.

Producers at Nishtarabad, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) largest CD market, are frustrated with piracy and the lack of implementation of intellectual property rights. The union of producers has threatened to abandon this business.

There are more than 300 shops in Nishtarabad, with thousands of people working in the business. The CD drama industry produces four dramas a month.

“Pashto dramas have national and international viewership, particularly in the Middle East and Afghanistan,” says Farhad Ahmad, a producer and president of the union of producers. Ahmad says that piracy issues are severely affecting his business.

“We are considering closing this business if our rights are not ensured,” he said.

Meanwhile, many other Pashto CD drama producers are unaware of the problem.

Drama writer and producer Farman Yousufzai agrees that most people in the business are ignorant of their rights. However, he says “the government has not taken any steps to bring those involved in piracy to justice.”

Piracy has also adversely affected the Pashto music industry. Many involved in the industry are aware of the laws that protect them from piracy, but are wary of long legal procedures.

“We could send them legal notices but who will do all the legwork?” says Pashto singer Iram Khan.

Piracy is not the only issue threatening to drive drama producers out of business; many cable operators also air their dramas without permission. The producers receive no remuneration either for their dramas which are aired by the cable operators.

Drama producer Allah Mohammad, the owner of Star CDs House in Nishtarabad, says tax-paying citizens they have a right to be protected against intellectual theft. He maintained that the production cost of a CD drama could reach Rs5 million, while a CD is sold for Rs50 only. Pirated copies, however, are available for as low as as Rs20.

“We hardly sell 1,000 copies a month because people prefer the cheaper, pirated versions,” he laments.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2012.