Devinder Singh to serve three years.

A Delhi, India court handed down an unprecedented jail sentence of three years for copyright piracy to a video-rental retailer, the Motion Picture Assn. announced today (Aug. 1).

The court sentenced on July 18 Devinder Singh, owner of Rosy Videos, to serve two concurrent three-year terms for copyright infringement and failure to display censorship and copyright ownership information as required by that country’s Copyright Act. The court also fined Singh the maximum amount permissible, Rs 200,000 ($4,612) for each offense, for a total fine of Rs 400,000 ($9,225).

The copyright industry and law enforcement agencies hope this sentence will have a significant deterrent effect on film piracy in India.

In the judgment, Vinod Kumar, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of the Karkardooma Courts in Delhi, wrote, “[That] foreign films were found in possession of the convict for the purpose of sale and hire ... affects the credibility of Indian market in foreign countries. Therefore, to my mind in such offences no leniency can be shown….”

Singh was arrested on July 5, 1998, following a raid by Delhi police with the MPA in which 405 pirated VCDs, 132 pirated videocassettes, four VCRs and additional replication and playback equipment were seized. Also arrested during the raid was Singh’s assistant, Sanjay Kumar, who absconded after being released on bail and is being sought by police.

The MPA works closely with law enforcement authorities throughout India to curb the country’s piracy. This year, police in Delhi, working with MPA investigators, have conducted 28 raids, resulting in the seizure of over 200 CD-R and DVD-R burners and over 66,000 pirate optical discs. Last year the MPA in the Asia-Pacific region investigated more than 25,500 cases of piracy and assisted law enforcement officials in conducting nearly 12,000 raids.