New Delhi: With the film industry facing losses of up to Rs 20,000 crore every year due to piracy, the union information and broadcasting ministry has taken strong steps to check film piracy in the country. After the Parliament passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 1952 during this year’s monsoon Session, the I & B ministryhas established an institutional mechanism of nodal officers to receive complaints against piracy and direct the intermediaries to take down pirated content on digital platforms.
As of now there is no institutional mechanism to directly take action on pirated filmic content except legal action under Copyright Act and IPC. With the proliferation of internet and almost everyone interested to watch filmic content for free, there has seen a boom in piracy. The above action would allow instant action by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in case of piracy and will provide relief to the industry.
Minister Anurag Thakur has said that piracy causes a loss of over Rs 20,000 crore to the film and entertainment industry every year. Years worth of effort that goes into making a film is laid waste by piracy. To act against this menace the Government passed this Act, a move which was widely welcomed by the industry. These officers have been appointed in the Ministry of I&B and offices of Central Board of Film Certification headquarter in Mumbai and its regional offices in major film produtction centres. The Act aimed to curb film piracy, a measure which has been a long-standing demand of the film industry and the appointment of nodal officers is a major step in that direction.
It is noteworthy that the Act has been amended after 40 years to incorporate provisions against film piracy, including digital piracy after the last significant amendments were made in 1984. The amendment includes strict punishment of minimum 3 months imprisonment and fine of Rs. 3 lakh which can be extended up to 3 years imprisonment and fine upto 5% of the audited gross production cost.
Who can apply? : An original copyright holder or any person authorised by them for this purpose can apply to the Nodal Officer to take down pirated content. If a complaint is raised by a person who does not hold the copyright or is not authorised by the copyright holder, the Nodal Officer can hold hearings on a case to case basis to decide the genuineness of the complaint before issuing the directions.
After receiving directions from the Nodal Officer under the law, the digital platform will be obliged to remove such internet links hosting pirated content within a period of 48 hours.
The Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 2023 (12 of 2023) passed by the Parliament in the Monsoon Session of 2023 addressed the issues relating to film certification, including the issue of unauthorized recording and exhibition of films and film piracy by transmission of unauthorized copies on the internet and imposes strict penalties for piracy. These amendments are in harmony with the existing laws that address the issue of film piracy, viz. the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Information Technology Act (IT) 2000.
The newly inserted section 6AB of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 provides that no person shall use or abet the use of an infringing copy of any film to exhibit to the public for profit at a place of exhibition which has not been licensed under this Act or the rules made thereunder; or in a manner that amounts to the infringement of copyright under the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 or any other law for the time being in force. Further, the newly inserted section 7(1B)(ii) in the Cinematograph Act provides that the Government may take suitable action for removing/disabling access to such an infringing copy exhibited/hosted on an intermediary platform in a manner in contravention to the section 6AB