India: Major action to curb film piracy
November 3, 2023
By Colin Mann
With the Indian film industry facing losses of up to Rs. 20,000 crore (€2.2m) every year as a result of piracy, the country’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has taken strong steps to check film piracy in the country.
After the Parliament passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 1952, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has established an institutional mechanism of Nodal Officers to receive complaints against piracy and direct the intermediaries to take down pirated content on digital platforms.
Up to now, there has been no institutional mechanism to take direct action on pirated movie content except legal action under Copyright Act and IPC. The proliferation of Internet and a growing desire to watch such content for free has seen a boom in piracy.
Speaking about the Bill in the Parliament, Union Minister Shri Anurag Thakur stated that the Act aimed to curb film piracy, a measure which has been a long standing demand of the film industry. The Act was 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 three months imprisonment and fine of Rs. 3 lakh (€3,384) which can be extended up to three years imprisonment and fine up to 5 per cent of the audited gross production cost.
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 unauthorised recording and exhibition of films and film piracy by transmission of unauthorised 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 referred to above.