Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023

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What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why in the News?
  • What is Piracy?
  • Need for a Legislation on Piracy
  • Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023
  • News Summary

Why in the News?

  • In order to curb film piracy, the Union government has appointed nodal officers to order taking down pirated content from digital platforms.
  • The decision was taken in the wake of the Cinematograph Amendment Bill 2023, which was passed in the Parliament recently.

What is Piracy?

  • Piracy refers to the unauthorized duplication of copyrighted content that is then sold at substantially lower prices in the 'grey' market.
  • The ease of access to technology has meant that over the years, piracy has become more rampant.
  • For example, CD writers are available off the shelf at very low prices, making movies/music piracy a simple affair.

Need for a Legislation on Piracy

  • Currently, Cinematograph Act of 1952 is the only legislation in India that guides certification of films for public exhibition.
    • The provisions of the legislation are applicable to films released in Indian theatres, which are regulated by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
  • There has been a major jump worldwide in consumption of pirated content over the last few years.
  • A recent report has pointed out that India ranked third globally for consuming pirated content in 2021.
  • The current Cinematograph Act of 1952 does not have provisions to check video piracy and has limited age-based categories for certification of films.
  • It had been largely rendered redundant with the growth of the OTT industry and the content produced by the platforms every year.
    • OTT content is governed by the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, which were released in 2021.
  • Over the last few years, the government made multiple attempts to amend the existing Cinematograph Act.
  • An expert committee under Justice Mukul Mudgal was set up in 2013 to examine the law.
  • A second panel was subsequently constituted under filmmaker Shyam Benegal in 2016 to devise guidelines for certification under the Act.

Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023

  • The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 amends the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
    • The Act constitutes the Board of Film Certification for certifying films for exhibition.
    • Such certifications may be subject to modifications/deletions. The Board may also refuse the exhibition of a films.
  • Key Features of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023:
    • Additional Certificate Categories:
      • The Bill adds certain additional certificate categories based on age.
      • Also, the Bill provides for separate certificate for television/other media.
    • Unauthorized recording and exhibition to be punishable:
      • The Bill prohibits carrying out or abetting: (i) the unauthorized recording and (ii) unauthorized exhibition of films.
      • The above offences will be punishable with: (i) imprisonment between three months and three years, and (ii) a fine between three lakh rupees and 5% of the audited gross production cost.
    • Certificates to be perpetually valid:
      • Under the Act, the certificate issued by the Board is valid for 10 years.
      • The Bill provides that the certificates will be perpetually valid.
    • Revisional powers of the Central government:
      • The Act empowers the central government to examine and make orders in relation to films that have been certified or are pending certification.
      • The Board is required to dispose matters in conformance to the order.
      • The Bill removes this power of the central government. 

News Summary

  • In a bid to curb film piracy, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has appointed nodal officers authorized to direct the blocking or taking down of any website, app or weblink carrying pirated film content.
  • The nodal officers are from the Ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The action has been taken under the recently amended Cinematograph Act.
  • The content creator spends a lot of time and energy making good content; people who are involved in the piracy take away that content and exhibit it in the halls and on online platforms.
    • The annual loss to the industry is about ₹20,000 crore to ₹25,000 crore.
  • Till now, there was no institutional mechanism to directly act against pirated film content, except for legal proceedings under the Copyright Act and the Indian Penal Code.
  • An original copyright holder or any person authorized by them can apply to the nodal officer to get the pirated content taken down.
  • After receiving directions from the nodal officer under the law, a digital platform must remove such internet links hosting pirated content within 48 hours.

Q1) What does OTT stand for?

OTT stands for “over-the-top” and refers to technology that delivers streamed content over the internet. In previous years, a consumer would take out a cable subscription and their cable TV provider would be responsible for the supply and availability of programming.

Q2)What are the roles & responsibilities of CBFC? 

Popularly known as the Censor Board, the CBFC was set up under the Cinematograph Act of 1952. Its purpose is to certify, by means of screening and rating, the suitability of feature films, short films, trailers, documentaries, and theatre-based advertising for public viewing.

Source: Central nodal officers appointed to act against pirated content on digital platforms | Hindu