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Proposed amendments to Cinematograph Act – Stringent penalties for copying a film

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (“Ministry”) vide a public notice has invited comments from the public regarding the proposed Cinematograph Act (Amendment) Bill.

The Ministry proposes stringent penalties for recording, attempting to record or abetting the recording or transmission of a film or part thereof by introducing a new sub-section, that is, sub-section (4) of section 7 in the Act which currently reads as follows:

“Notwithstanding any law for the time being in force including any provision of the Copyright Act, 1957, any person who, during the exhibition of an audiovisual work, cinematographic in an exhibition facility used to exhibit cinematograph films or audiovisual recordings and without the written authorization of the copyright owner, uses any audiovisual recording device to knowingly make or transmit or attempt to make or transmit or abet the making or transmission of a copy or visual recording or sound recording embodying a cinematograph film or audiovisual recording or any part thereof or a copy of sound recording accompanying such cinematograph film or audiovisual recording or any part thereof during subsistence of copyright in such cinematograph film or sound recording, shall be punishable with imprisonment not exceeding three years and shall also be liable to fine not exceeding Rs.10 Lakhs, or to a term of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.”

The proposed provision uses non-obstante language to over-ride any existing law including the Copyright Act, 1957. This seems unjustified as the objective of the Cinematograph Act is to regulate the certification of cinematograph films for exhibition and that of the Copyright Act is to protect copyright. Hence the piracy issue should have been dealt with by amending the Copyright Act instead of the Cinematograph Act.

Further the proposed provision prescribes a stringent penalty of imprisonment for up to three years with the possibility of an additional fine.

References:

  1. Public notice seeking comments on the draft amendment to the Cinematograph Act-

https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/Public%20Notice%20-%20Amendment%20of%20Cinematograph%20Act%20Bill.pdf

  1. Cinematograph Act, 1952.

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