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Cabinet approves amendments to Cinematograph Act, adds anti-camcording clause

The Union Cabinet has approved the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act, reports NDTV. The report cited an official statement as saying that these amendments will increase industry revenues, create jobs, safeguard India’s National IP policy, and prevent piracy and infringing content online. The film industry lauded this move stating that it would have IP and monetary benefits.

An anti-camcording provision (Section 6A) was also added to the amendment: “Notwithstanding any law for the time being in force, no person shall without the written authorization of the author be permitted to use any audiovisual recording device to knowingly make or transmit or attempt to make or transmit or abet the making or transmission of a copy of a film or a part thereof.”

Called the Cinematograph Amendment Bill, 2019, the bill has the following updates to the original 1952 Act:

  • If a person records, uses any recording device to copy, transmit or abets in transmission of a film, its audio, video or any content covered under Cinematograph Act, (while it is being exhibited) they shall be liable for punishment.
  • The punishment includes a maximum jail term of three years and a fine not exceeding Rs 10 lakh.
  • This applies to all the people who participate in the act of creating a copy or transmitting the content, without the written authorization from the copyright owner of the content.

Note that, the Section 7 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 currently deals with who can watch and exhibit which films and penalties for violating terms and conditions related to exhibition of board certified films.

Poor drafting, unclear terms

According to analyst Divij Joshi, the terms of the amendment are blunt and disproportionate, and stifle fair dealing provisions under the Copyright Act. He adds that the amendments use non-obstante language, are unclear and use undefined terms. “The poor drafting is reflected in repetitive and redundant wording of the punishment proposed for the offence,” he said. Read the full argument here:


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